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Preschoolers Who Stutter Do Just Fine Emotionally and Socially, Study Finds

8/26/2013 For Release: August 26, 2013

Stuttering 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. 


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