Children with cleft palate require regular audiologic and otologic follow-up to ensure their management is appropriate and timely, say researchers.
Traci Flynn (Gothenburg University, Sweden) and colleagues found an increased prevalence of abnormal middle ear status in children with cleft palate with or without cleft lip, which they say may lead to increased hearing thresholds in the high frequencies (4000, 6000, and 8000 Hz).
This may negatively affect the child's ability to communicate in noisy situations, write the authors in The Laryngoscope.
Flynn and team found that the prevalence of abnormal middle ear status in a group of 58 children born with cleft palate between 1991 and 1993 decreased significantly with age.
There was a significantly lower prevalence of abnormal middle ear status in children with isolated cleft palate than those with unilateral cleft lip and palate and those with bilateral cleft lip and palate, at 21% versus 32% and 38%, respectively.
Pure-tone average (500?4000 Hz) improved with age and stabilized at around 13 years, while the high-frequency pure-tone average (6000-8000 Hz) did not, note the researchers.
The retrospective analysis revealed that children with bilateral cleft lip and palate demonstrated significantly poorer hearing in high frequencies than those with isolated cleft palate and those with unilateral cleft lip and palate. "This may be due to the higher number of episodes of otitis media with effusion (OME) the children experienced," suggest the authors.
"Adolescents with a larger cleft demonstrated a higher prevalence of abnormal middle ear status and presented with worse hearing," Flynn et al point out.
"Therefore, children with cleft palate with or without cleft lip need regular audiologic and otologic clinical examinations to ensure that they are free from OME, and that hearing is managed appropriately in a timely manner."
The authors say that as their data was not collected longitudinally, it may not have captured all occurrences of OME in adolescents with cleft palate with or without cleft lip. "Future studies should attempt to collect data more often to capture all episodes of OME," they advise.
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