Cleft palate in children is very frequently associated with otitis media with effusion. In this prospective study of 150 cleft palate children aged between 2 and 18 months, the prevalence of otitis media with effusion at myringotomy before palate repair was 92 percent. Otoscopic and tympanometric follow-up assessments for 140 children indicate that there is minimal improvement in middle ear status after palate repair. The condition is persistent in 70 percent of children up to 4 years of age. Furthermore, there is no evidence that age at repair or type of cleft is influential. These findings have implications for otologic management of cleft palate children. Early routine unilateral ventilation to ensure adequate hearing but minimize the morbidity of ventilation tubes is advocated.
(C)1992American Society of Plastic Surgeons