To study the occurrence and type of misarticulations in dental consonants /r/, /s/ and /l/ 280 (115 girls, 165 boys) 6-year-old cleft children were examined by 1 of the 2 experienced speech pathologists of the cleft team. The patients included 82 children with isolated cleft palate (CP), 82 with cleft lip with (34) or without (48) cleft alveolus [CL(A)], 85 with unilateral cleft lip and palate (UCLP) and 31 with bilateral cleft lip and palate (BCLP). CP children were first divided into subgroups; there were 17 children with soft palate cleft, 49 with partial and 16 with complete hard palate cleft. All patients were native Finnish speakers, and had normal hearing, no known syndrome or associated anomalies possibly affecting speech or psychomotor retardation. The results showed that the occurrence and severity as well as the number of errors of all studied sounds separately or grouped increased with the severity of the cleft being constantly greatest in the BCLP group and lowest in the CL(A) group. Altogether 44% of the patients misarticulated at least one studied sound; 41% distorted and 5% substituted, and 2% both distorted and substituted. The /r/ sound was misarticulated by 36%, the /s/ sound by 23%, and the /l/ sound by 18% of the patients. Boys tend to have more problems in producing the studied sounds correctly.
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