• Cerebral palsy;
  • Children;
  • Epidemiology;
  • Neuroimaging;
  • Speech ability;
  • Speech disorder



To describe speech ability in a population-based study of children with cerebral palsy (CP), in relation to CP subtype, motor function, cognitive level and neuroimaging findings.


A retrospective chart review of 129 children (66 girls, 63 boys) with CP, born in 1999–2002, was carried out. Speech ability and background information, such as type of CP, motor function, cognitive level and neuroimaging data, were collected and analysed.


Speech disorders were found in 21% of the children and were present in all types of CP. Forty-one per cent of the children with speech disorders also had mental retardation, and 42% were able to walk independently. A further 32% of the children were nonverbal, and maldevelopment and basal ganglia lesions were most common in this group. The remaining 47% had no speech disorders, and this group was most likely to display white matter lesions of immaturity.


More than half of the children in this CP cohort had a speech disorder (21%) or were nonverbal (32%). Speech ability was related to the type of CP, gross motor function, the presence of mental retardation and the localization of brain maldevelopment and lesions. Neuroimaging results differed between the three speech ability groups.