Velopharyngeal function during vocalization in infants

Stacey A. Thom, Jeannette D. Hoit, Thomas J. Hixon, Alice E. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the age at which infants achieve velopharyngeal closure during vocalization. Design: Longitudinal with repeated measures. Setting: Laboratory. Participants: Six healthy infants were studied monthly from ages 2 to 6 months while they interacted with a parent and an investigator. Main Outcome Measures: The presence or absence of velopharyngeal closure, as determined by sensing ram pressure at the anterior nares. Results: The velopharynx was open for windups, whimpers, and laughs, and It was closed for cries, screams, and raspberries, regardless of age. The frequency with which the velopharynx closed during syllable utterances increased significantly with age. Conclusions: Velopharyngeal closure for speech-like utterance increases with age, but is not complete and is still undergoing development at 6 months of age. Velopharyngeal closure during infancy may be influenced by pressure demands of the utterance; however, support for this speculation is stronger for other types of utterances than it is for speech-like utterances. The method used in this study holds promise for evaluating infants with suspected velopharyngeal impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-546
Number of pages8
JournalCleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Cry
  • Development
  • Speech

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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