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Down syndrome: otolaryngological effects of rapid maxillary expansion

  • C Pinto de Moura (a1) (a2), D Andrade (a3), L M Cunha (a4), M J Tavares (a3), M J Cunha (a5), P Vaz (a3), H Barros (a6), S M Pueschel (a7) and M Pais Clemente (a1)...



Phenotypical Down syndrome includes pharyngeal and maxillary hypoplasia and, frequently, constricted maxillary arch with nasal obstruction.

Study design:

This clinical trial assessed the effects of rapid maxillary expansion on ENT disorders in 24 children with Down syndrome randomly allocated to receive either rapid maxillary expansion or not. Each group received ENT and speech therapy assessments before expansion and after the device had been removed.


In the rapid maxillary expansion group, the yearly ENT infection rate was reduced when assessed after device removal (p < 0.01). The parents of rapid maxillary expansion children reported a reduction in respiratory obstruction symptoms. Audiological assessment revealed improvements in the rapid maxillary expansion group (p < 0.01). Cephalometry showed increased maxillary width in the rapid maxillary expansion group.


Rapid maxillary expansion resulted in a reduction in hearing loss, yearly rate of ENT infections and parentally assessed symptoms of upper airway obstruction, compared with no treatment. These findings are probably related to expanded oronasal space, due to rapid maxillary expansion.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr Carla Pinto de Moura, Department of Otolaryngology, Hospital São João, Porto Medical School, Alameda Hernani Monteiro, 4200-251 Porto, Portugal. E-mail:


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Presented as a poster at the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery; Annual Meeting, 17–20 September 2006, Toronto, Canada.



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