CLAPA’s Response to ‘Timing of Cleft Palate Surgery’ Article

September 14, 2023

At the end of August, the New England Journal of Medicine reported on a study about cleft palate surgery.

Babies in the study had surgery for their cleft palate at either six or 12 months old, and the study looked at differences in how speech sounded at five years of age for both groups.

The article reported that babies who had an operation at 6 months had less ‘nasal-sounding’ speech when they were five years old. It reports no differences in other measures of speech, such as how the children made their speech sounds.

There have been reports on social media and the internet to say that, because of this, cleft palate repair is better at six months than at 12 months. However the cleft surgeons and speech therapists in the UK have looked in detail at this study, and we wish to let you know that, overall, the study showed that surgery at either age resulted in good speech in children at five years.

If you have any questions or concerns about this, your local Cleft Team would be happy to discuss it with you. You can also get in touch with us through our contact form.

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