Pediatric voice and swallowing: Advanced, age-appropriate care for voice and swallowing conditions

Your child's voice quality and ability to swallow are essential for proper speaking, breathing and eating. UW Health Kids Voice and Swallow experts are ready to diagnose and, if necessary, treat your child with the very latest approaches.


What we do

When your child has trouble with their voice or swallowing, UW Health Kids experts can help. Our specialists carefully evaluate your child’s condition. It’s important to understand what’s causing the problem.

Issues with a child’s voice or swallowing can impact breathing, feeding and speaking. We provide advanced treatments, therapies and surgery to improve your child’s voice, communication and ability to swallow.

Meet our team

An expert team by your side

The UW Health Kids voice and swallow team includes experts in voice and swallowing disorders, airway conditions, speech, language and resonance therapy, and ear, nose and throat.

Smiling child with sign reading UW Health Kids
UW Health Kids
Our pediatric experts have served the special needs of children for more than 100 years. We focus on each child’s unique needs and offer social and emotional support to help you and your child face even the most complex condition. Our long history includes the creation of medical advances that save lives around the world. Together, we get your child back to health and enjoying being a kid.

Conditions and treatments

Evaluating and treating voice and swallowing disorders

When you trust UW Health Kids for your child’s voice or swallowing disorder, you get comprehensive care. We evaluate your child to make the right diagnosis and find the best treatment.

Your child's care team talks with you about the history of your child’s symptoms. We want to know about any lifestyle, medical, occupational or surgical factors that may be related to the voice or swallowing problem.

Tests that our specialists might perform on your child include:

  • Acoustic analysis of voice

  • Aerodynamic analysis of voice

  • Physical exam to check the tension in muscles used to produce voice

  • Videolaryngostroboscopy

  • Flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES)

  • Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study (VFSS)

  • Clinical feeding and/or swallowing evaluation

  • Nasometry

  • Articulation testing

The two most common evaluations performed in our clinics are:

  • Videolaryngostroboscopy, where our specialists look at your child’s vocal folds using a camera and light source.

  • Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study (VFSS), where our specialists check your child’s esophagus and airway for swallowing issues by taking X-rays of your child’s body as they swallow various kinds of foods and drinks.

Causes for voice and swallow conditions might include:

  • Presence of vocal fold lesions (e.g. nodules, cysts, polyps)

  • Developmental delays

  • Neurological disease (SMA, CP, muscular dystrophy, hypotonia, hypertonia)

  • Phonotrauma (overuse)

  • Vocal fold paralysis

  • Surgery to the neck or throat

  • Head and neck cancer

Conditions we treat

We provide care and therapy for children with a wide range of voice and swallowing conditions. Common voice and airway conditions we treat include:

  • Hoarseness

  • Scratchy weak or breathy voice

  • Difficulty with loudness

  • Voice fatigue (worsening voice quality or discomfort with voice use)

  • Increased effort to talk

  • Change in singing voice

  • Pain or discomfort when speaking or singing

  • Changes in voice after trauma or surgery to neck, throat or larynx

  • Frequent laryngitis

  • Airway disorders

  • Hypernasality

  • Hyponasality

  • Articulation issues related to cleft lip, cleft palate, or other craniofacial anomalies

  • Noisy breathing

  • Pediatric vocal cord dysfunction

Swallowing conditions:

  • Chronic cough

  • Feeding problems

  • Swallowing problems

Effective treatments

We work closely with you and your child to improve your child’s voice and swallowing ability. We use treatments that fit your child’s age and developmental stage. Treatments include:

  • Therapy

  • Swallowing techniques

  • Surgery

Programs and research

More ways we can help

Performing voice program

We work with children who perform using their voice. We provide care from singing voice specialists to keep the vocal folds healthy.

Advancing voice and swallowing treatment through research

UW Health Kids doctors and scientists work to provide better care for children. We study new treatments that restore voice or swallowing. Learn more


How to find us

We provide specialized voice and swallow care at American Family Children’s Hospital and at UW Health clinics in Madison.