Early cleft palate repair and speech outcome

Plast Reconstr Surg. 1982 Jul;70(1):74-81. doi: 10.1097/00006534-198207000-00015.


Speech production and age at palatal repair were investigated in 80 cleft palate children. Children whose palates were repaired prior to the onset of speech production demonstrated significantly better speech than those whose palates were repaired between 12 and 27 months of age. The supposition that earlier palatal repair results in more normal speech development was, in fact, demonstrated in these cases. Rather than using chronologic age alone as the deciding factor in determining timing of initial palatal repair, the stage of each child's phonemic development should be considered if maximum speech potential is to be achieved and if speech development is to parallel normal noncleft peers. Determining this stage of development through early speech and language evaluations, beginning at 6 months of age, thus becomes an essential component in the habilitation of children with cleft palate. Continued research is needed to ensure against giving the obtainment of early speech normalcy disproportionate emphasis over craniofacial growth considerations. To this end, continued cooperative research between surgeons and speech pathologists is imperative in order to base these important decisions on substantiated findings.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Cleft Lip / surgery
  • Cleft Palate / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Speech Articulation Tests
  • Speech*