Cleft Palate


Cleft Palate (with or without cleft lip) occurs in approximately 1 in 700 live births. It results from a breakdown in the fusion of the roof of the mouth during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. A cleft can occur on one or both sides of the mouth and may be a complete or partial breakdown. Usually the lip is surgically repaired at about 3 months while the palate is repaired between 6 and 12 months. Following cleft palate repair, specific atypical speech errors may occur and these errors can have a significant impact on a child’s quality of life. Studies have shown that over 60% of children require Speech & Language Therapy (SLT) and about 20% can have persistent difficulties requiring prolonged intervention. The Irish/UK standard of care is for normal or near normal speech by school entry (CSAG report 1998). Hence SLT intervention in cleft palate within the preschool years is critical. The current economic climate has resulted in a lack of, delayed or limited speech therapy. Studies have demonstrated that parents can be trained to successfully deliver therapy to improve the articulation skills of non-cleft children but it is unknown whether this approach is effective in children with cleft palate with more complex speech disorders.

Parent Led Articulation Therapy (PLAT)

This is a collaborative study with Dr Debbie Sell, Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Trust. The aim of the PLAT study is to test out an approach where parents undergo a training course in specific speech therapy techniques, which they deliver on a daily basis. The programme is directed and supervised by a therapist using telemedicine. We believe this approach may have the exciting potential to be adopted nationally and internationally where speech therapy is often unavailable.

Current Trials & Studies

Study NameStudy TitleStudy TypeSponsorSponsor Type
PLATParent Led, therapist supervised, Articulation Therapy for Children with Cleft Palate Speech disordersNon-Interventional Clinical TrialCleft Lip & Palate Association of Ireland / Temple Street Foundation /CLEFT - Bridging the GapAcademic - Investigator Led