Speech, eating and saliva control in rare diseases - a database study

J Oral Rehabil. 2015 Nov;42(11):819-27. doi: 10.1111/joor.12317. Epub 2015 Jun 10.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual
  • Eating*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rare Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Salivation*
  • Speech Intelligibility*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Young Adult