Early and Later Vocalization Skills in Children with and Without Cleft Palate

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The purpose of this study was to describe the early vocalization skills in children with cleft lip and palate (CLP) at 6 and 12 months of age and compare these early vocalization measures to later speech and vocabulary development at 30 months of age.


The participants in the study included 13 children without cleft lip or palate (NCLP) who were typically developing and 13 children with CLP matched for age, gender and socioeconomic status. Standardized measures of cognition, language, hearing, and prelinguistic vocalization measures were administered at 6 and 12 months and speech production, and vocabulary measures were collected at 30 months of age.


Group differences were observed in both receptive and expressive language development at 12 and 30 months of age. Group differences were observed in the frequency of babbling and Mean Babbling Level at 12 months and speech sound accuracy and vocabulary production at 30 months of age. Significant correlation coefficients were observed between babbling frequency at 6 months and consonant inventory size, vocabulary at 30 months for the children with clefts and PCC-R for noncleft children.


This study documented that young children with clefts have persistent vocalization and vocabulary deficits well beyond palate closure. Measures of babbling frequency, Mean Babbling Level and consonant inventories provide clinically effective means of identifying these early deficits. Additionally, these measures may provide a tool for monitoring the effects of early intervention programs that promote facilitation of sound and vocabulary development.