The aim was to study the background to and the manifestations of affected intelligibility of speech and reported difficulty with eating and saliva control in rare diseases. In Sweden, a disease or disorder is defined as rare when it affects no more than 100 individuals per million population and leads to a marked degree of disability. In 1996-2008, 1703 individuals with 169 rare diseases (3-67 years) answered a questionnaire about oral health and oro-facial function and 1614 participated in a clinical examination. A control group of 135 healthy children was included. Oromotor impairment was a frequent finding (43%) and was absent among the controls. Half the children in the youngest age group (3-6 years) had moderate/severely affected intelligibility or no speech compared with one-third in the other age groups. The most frequent eating difficulties were related to chewing and were found in approximately 20% of the individuals in the study group. Artificial nutrition was most common in children aged 3-6 years (9·2%), followed by children aged 7-12 years (4·9%), adolescents aged 13-19 years (3·3%) and adults (1·4%). Impaired saliva control was common (31·2%) and strongly and significantly correlated with oromotor dysfunction, intellectual disability, open mouth at rest and epilepsy. In conclusion, oromotor impairment and oro-facial dysfunctions, such as affected intelligibility, eating difficulties and impaired saliva control, are frequent in individuals with rare diseases. There is a strong correlation between oromotor impairment and affected intelligibility, eating difficulties and impaired saliva control in individuals with rare diseases.
Keywords: artificial feeding; deglutition disorders; drooling; intellectual disability; intelligibility; rare diseases; speech.
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.