Drooling, saliva production, and swallowing in cerebral palsy.

, , , and . Dev Med Child Neurol 46 (12): 801--806 (December 2004)


Fourteen participants (six females, eight males) ranging in age from 7 years 11 months to 18 years 2 months (mean 11y 7mo) with a confirmed diagnosis of spastic cerebral palsy (CP) were included in the study. Participants included those who drooled (CP+, n=14); age- and sex-matched children with spastic CP who were dry to mild and never to infrequent droolers (CP-, n=14) as well as typically developing peers (CTRL, n=14) served as controls. Frequency of swallowing was measured by using simultaneous cervical ausculation and videotaping of the head and neck. Saliva production was measured with the Saxon test, a simple gauze-chewing procedure. In addition, Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory (PEDI), Test of Nonverbal Intelligence-3 (TONI-3), dysarthria severity scale, and Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) scores were obtained for each participant. Both groups of participants with CP tended to swallow less frequently than typically developing participants and tended to produce less saliva than typically developing controls; however, these differences were not statistically significant. No correlation was found between amount of saliva produced and amount drooled (r=0.245). An analysis of variance (ANOVA) conducted on the PEDI functional skills mean scores indicated significant differences between the three groups (F(2,39)=23.522,p<0.0001). Likewise, an ANOVA conducted on the TONI-3 scores revealed statistically significant differences between the three groups (F(2,39)=31.761, p<0.0001). A Spearman's rho correlation indicated that GMFCS scores were not significantly correlated with drooling severity (Spearman's rho correlation=0.3951,p=0.037). Drooling severity was found to be positively correlated with dysarthria severity (Spearman's rho correlation=0.82,p<0.0001). These findings suggest that drooling in patients with CP is related to swallowing difficulties rather than hypersalivation.

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