Yvonne Wren is Associate Professor of Speech and Communication at the University of Bristol and Director of Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit in the UK. She is also Chief Investigator of the Cleft Collective Cohort Studies. This large national database containing genotype, phenotype, environmental, clinical, parent report and outcome data from children born with cleft and their families is available for clinicians and researchers to access and use to address clinically relevant questions relating to the causes, multidisciplinary treatment and outcomes for cleft.
Yvonne’s particular area of research interest is in the field of Persistent Speech Disorder (PSD) in cleft and non-cleft populations. She has carried out systematic reviews, trials and cohort studies to investigate the risk factors for PSD and the impact of interventions as well as long term outcomes in education, social, well-being and employment opportunities for children whose speech problems persist beyond early childhood. Using data from the birth cohort study and community population cohort, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), comprising a sample of over 14000 children, Yvonne has identified that risk factors for PSD for all children include weak sucking at 4 weeks, limited word combination at 2 years, unintelligibility to strangers at 3 years and a history of poor coordination and non-word repetition. These children were also more likely to underperform at school and show problems with well-being. Yvonne is now using data from the Cleft Collective to determine which factors are important specifically for children born with clefts.
Yvonne is the founder of the UK and Ireland Child Speech Disorder Research Network, Chair of the Child Speech Committee for the International Association of Communication Sciences and Disorders, on the Research Steering Committee for the charity CLEFT, and a member of the International Expert Panel for Multilingual Children’s Speech.