Objective: The main goal for this meta-analysis was to examine the word decoding abilities of children with non-syndromic cleft lip and/or palate (NSCL/P) compared to their typically developing peers. Age, hearing status, language abilities, speech abilities, and socioeconomic status were examined as predictors of the word decoding skills of children with NSCL/P.
Methods: After searching through PubMed and PsycINFO and screening each article to see if the studies matched our inclusion and exclusion criteria, 7 studies qualified for this meta-analysis. Across all studies, 274 children with NSCL/P were compared to 267 of their typically developing peers. The mean age for children with NSCL/P was 118.8 months (SD = 49.19) and 119.8 months (SD = 49.81) for typically developing children. Effect sizes and demographic information (i.e. study location, sample size, assessments used, etc.) were pulled from each study.
Results: The average effect size for this systematic review is -0.41, demonstrating that children with NSCL/P performed 0.41 standard deviations less than their typically developing peers on measures of word decoding. This was calculated using the RVE-model. Both the older and younger age range showed deficits in their word decoding abilities compared to their typically developing peers. Hearing status, language abilities, and speech abilities were reported minimally with many inconsistencies between studies.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that children with NSCL/P perform poorer on word decoding tasks than their noncleft peers. These differences are found in both the younger and older populations of our sample. More evidence and fewer inconsistencies in the research are needed to determine whether hearing, language, and speech abilities have an effect on the word decoding skills of children with NSCL/P.