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September 1988

Effects of Cleft Lip and Palate on the Nasal Airway in Children

Author Affiliations

From the Oral-Facial and Communicative Disorders Program, Dental Research Center (Drs Warren, Hairfield, and Dalston), the Department of Dental Ecology, School of Dentistry (Dr Warren), and the Department of Surgery (Dr Warren) and the Division of Otolaryngology (Drs Sidman and Pillsbury), School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1988;114(9):987-992. doi:10.1001/archotol.1988.01860210053014

• Clefts of the lip and palate often produce significant nasal deformities and reduced nasal airway size. The purpose of this study was to assess how type of cleft affects nasal cross-sectional area and mode of breathing. The pressure-flow technique was used to estimate nasal airway size and modified inductive plethysmography was used to determine percent of nasal breathing in 60 children with cleft lip and palate aged 6 to 15 years. Ninety-five normal children served as controls. The data demonstrate that nasal size decreased among cleft types as follows: children with bilateral cleft lip and palate had largest airway, followed by unilateral cleft lip, cleft of the hard and soft palate, cleft of the soft palate, and unilateral cleft lip and palate. The data also indicated that most subjects with cleft were mouth breathers. Results of otolaryngologic examinations suggest that septal deformities affecting nasal valve function are responsible for much of the impairment, especially in the group with unilateral cleft lip and palate. The differences among groups appear to relate to developmental differences associated with the original defect and the surgical procedures used in primary repair.

(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1988;114:987-992)