Pediatric Voice

Rita R. Patel, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Indiana University
Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences
Bloomington, Indiana,
United States

Voice disorders occur across the lifespan however some estimated prevalence rates suggests that children are at a higher risk of voice disorders than young adults. While much remains to be still discovered for the care and management of pediatric voice disorders, investigations in various aspects of pediatric voice and voice disorders has expanded considerably in the last three centuries enhancing our understanding of not only the differences but the uniqueness of the vocal anatomy and physiology of children compared to adults. In this Journal of Voice Classics series of collection of articles on the topic of ‘Pediatric Voice’ the articles are grouped in chronological sequence under the subheadings of the century in which they were published. The list of articles below is not a comprehensive list of all articles published in the Journal of Voice on this topic since its first issue in 1987. However, the list below represents selected articles in chronological order that the author considers as ‘classics’ published in the Journal of Voice in the area of ‘Pediatric Voice.’ In this series I employ a broad definition of a ‘classic’ in which growth and expansion in various areas of research are subsumed rather than just articles with a large number of citations.*

Through the Journal of Voice since its first issue in 1987 we can follow the growth and expansion of research across the various areas in the field of pediatric voice. In the late 19th century first experiments were conducted in the areas of laryngeal anatomy and acoustic analysis to highlight differences in structure and function of the vocal mechanism in children. Despite the innovation in instrumentation used for voice evaluation, the 20th century saw only a modest advancement in empirical investigations in the area of pediatric voice. As observed from the articles published in the Journal of Voice, investigations in the 20th century lead to the knowledge of the distinctiveness of the respiratory/aerodynamic function in children, and recognition of gender differences between girls and boys across acoustic and aerodynamic measurements. The latter part of the 20th century also recognized the unique needs of the ‘singing-acting child’ and the interprofessional collaboration between the speech language pathologists, and laryngologist for management of pediatric professional voice users.

Across the three centuries extensive expansion in the areas of investigation in pediatric voice is evident in the current century. The 21st century further noticed advancement in empirical investigations of voice characteristics during the stages of birth and puberty. There continues to be scant research exploring vocal mechanisms of infants and the young child. Studies from the current century thus far have also provided advancement in knowledge of vocal qualities in children with cleft palate, cochlear implants, laryngotracheal stenosis, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and twin sibling. Besides investigations in the areas of acoustic measurements, the current century introduced topics of pediatric imaging, children’s voice handicap index-10, pediatric high-speed videoendoscopy, pediatric laryngeal framework surgery, and enhancing compliance in voice therapy in this population. The first articles related to pediatric imaging appeared around 2009 focusing on the topic of pain with nasendoscopy and the clinical use of optical coherence tomography in the pediatric population. The first study on the distinctiveness of pediatric vocal fold vibratory motion appeared in the Journal of Voice in 2014. While considerable advances have been made in establishing normative data for various acoustic measurements across different cultures and different age groups in the pediatric population there continues to be scant research in the areas of laryngeal imaging, aerodynamic function, outcome measurements, causes of various disorders, and surgical / behavioral management of pediatric voice and voice disorders.

*The following articles contained in the source readings for this topic have each been cited fifty or more times in the Scopus database (as of February 2018):

19th Century

20th Century

21st Century