can be devastating for afflicted children and adults, so when a preschool child
starts to stutter, parents and educationists can be very concerned. In the
article, “Natural History of Stuttering to 4 Years of Age: A ProspectiveCommunity-Based Study,” in the September 2013 Pediatrics (published online Aug.
26), researchers involved with the Early Language in Victoria Study (ELVS)
examined 1,619 Australian 4-year-olds who stutter. Researchers found the
cumulative incidence of stuttering onset by 4 years of age was 11 percent.
Researchers also found that recovery from stuttering was low, at 6.3 percent 12
months after onset. Rates of recovery were higher in boys than girls, and in
those who did not repeat whole words at onset than those who did. The study
found boys were more likely to develop stuttering. Researchers were surprised
to find that stuttering in the preschool years was associated with better
language development and non-verbal skills, with no identifiable effect on the
child’s mental health or temperament at age 4. Higher rates of stuttering most
often occurred in boys, twins, and children whose mothers were
college-educated. Current best practice recommends waiting 12 months
before beginning treatment, unless the child is distressed, there is parental
concern, or the child becomes reluctant to communicate. Parents are encouraged
to talk to a speech pathologist or health care provider if they are concerned.
Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical
subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health,
safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For
more information, visit www.aap.org.