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Voice problems in school-aged children following very preterm birth
  1. Victoria Reynolds1,2,
  2. Suzanne Meldrum1,3,
  3. Karen Simmer1,4,
  4. Shyan Vijayasekaran1,5,6,
  5. Noel French1,4,7
  1. 1Centre for Neonatal Research and Education, School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  2. 2School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
  3. 3School of Psychology and Social Science, Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  4. 4Department of Neonatal Paediatrics, King Edward Memorial Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Subiaco, Western Australia, Australia
  5. 5Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Subiaco, Western Australia, Australia
  6. 6School of Surgery, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  7. 7Health Department of Western Australia, State Child Development Centre, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Victoria Reynolds, School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia, M561 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia; victoria.reynolds{at}uwa.edu.au

Abstract

Background and objective Very preterm children may be at risk of voice abnormalities (dysphonia). Risk factors previously identified in extremely preterm children include female gender, multiple intubations, complicated intubation and very low birth weight. This study sought to identify the prevalence of dysphonia in very preterm children, at school age.

Methods Children born between 23 and 32 weeks’ gestation were included in this prospective observational study. Participants were randomly selected from a sample stratified by gestational age and number of intubations, and were aged between 5 and 12 years at the time of assessment. Clinical voice assessments were conducted by a speech pathologist, and a diagnosis of dysphonia was made based on the presence and severity of disturbance to the voice. Retrospective chart review identified medical and demographic characteristics.

Results 178 participants were assessed. The prevalence of dysphonia in this cohort was 61%. 31% presenting with significant dysphonia, that is, voice disturbance of greater than mild in severity. Female gender (p=0.009), gestational age (p=0.031) and duration of intubation (p=0.021) were significantly associated with dysphonia although some preterm children with dysphonia were never intubated.

Conclusions Significant voice abnormalities were observed in children born at up to 32 weeks’ gestation, with intubation a major contributing factor.

Trial registration number ACTRN12613001015730.

  • Neonatology
  • Ent
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Outcomes research

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