Growth effects on velopharyngeal anatomy from childhood to adulthood

Jamie L. Perry, Lakshmi Kollara, Bradley P. Sutton, David P. Kuehn, Xiangming Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The observed sexual dimorphism of velopharyngeal structures among adult populations has not been observed in the young child (4-to 9-year-old) population. The purpose of this study was to examine the age at which sexual dimorphism of velopharyngeal structures become apparent and to examine how growth trends vary between boys and girls. Method: Static 3-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging velopharyngeal data were collected among 202 participants ranging from 4 to 21 years of age. Participants were divided into 3 groups based on age, including Group 1: 4–10 years of age, Group 2: 11–17 years of age, and Group 3: 18–21 years of age. Nine velopharyngeal measures were obtained and compared between groups. Results: Significant sex effects were evident for levator length (p = .011), origin to origin (p = .018), and velopharyngeal ratio ( p = .036) for those in Group 2 (11–17 years of age). Sex effects became increasingly apparent with age, with 7 of 9 variables becoming significantly different between male and female participants in Group 3. Boys, in general, displayed a delayed growth peak in velopharyngeal growth compared to girls. Conclusion: Results from this study demonstrate the growth of velopharyngeal anatomy with sexual dimorphism becoming apparent predominantly after 18 years of age. However, velopharyngeal variables displayed variable growth trends with some variables presenting sexual dimorphism at an earlier age compared to other velopharyngeal variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)682-692
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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