Paediatric voice disorders in the normal paediatric population ranges from 6% to 20%. We outline the important features in the initial evaluation of a persistent altered cry or voice in children and highlight the subsequent management currently used by ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons and speech and language therapists (SLTs). It is important to appreciate that there are stark differences between a child and adult larynx due to anatomical and physiological changes during development. The voice history elicited from both child and parent includes birth and developmental history, hearing, early feeding and respiratory function. Red flag symptoms or signs presenting with dysphonia include stridor, dysphagia, failure to thrive and recurrent chest infections. The most likely cause for dysphonia in children presenting to general paediatric practice and primary care will be secondary to laryngitis, hyperfunction and vocal cord nodules, and laryngopharyngeal reflux. Regarding treatment, in most cases a non-surgical option is preferred with voice therapy preferably delivered by a specialist paediatric voice SLT. The maximum effectiveness of behavioural or direct therapy is to children over 7 years, for in excess of 8 weeks with additional rigorous home rehearsal.
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Contributors AH came up with the concept. NAW wrote the first draft manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.