Epidemiological study on vocal disorders in paediatric age


Few studies analyzed the diffusion of vocal alterations especially in childhood. Aim of our study was to quantify the numbers of subjects, in paediatric age, in which dysphonia was diagnosed in our department of Phoniatrics, during a period of 5 years, (January 2002-December 2006), and also to evaluate the influence of some potential risk factors. In the considered period it emerged that the diagnosis of dysphonia was made in 312 children (17.2% of the patients affected from dysphonia), aged between 2 and 16 years old, with a major prevalence amongst males (57%) than females (43%). On the contrary in the adult population the prevalence was: 23% in males and 77% in females. In paediatric population, the most affected range of age is the one between 8 and 14, in both male and female gender (59.6%). In 82.4% of the cases there were vocal fold lesions. The 90.3% of children with vocal fold alterations presented lesions secondary to vocal abuse and misuse and classifiable as functional dysphonia. The proportion of functional dysphonia in our sample was 92%. The 65% of children belonged to large families with more than two children, and the 30% had a family history of dysphonia (brothers, parents). The study of the behavioural characteristics has shown aggressive and hyperactive attitudes in 83% of the cases. Since in the ethiopathogenesis of the childhood dysphonia the tendency to vocal abuse has a predominant role, it would be useful to encourage the diffusion of programmes of information to show the risks linked to this abuse in children, in order to prevent the development of dysphonia in paediatric age.