TUESDAY, July 5 (HealthDay News) -- Youngsters who aren't
talking at age 2 generally aren't at risk for future behavioral or
emotional problems as a result, suggests new research.
Kids who are speech-delayed, but don't have any other
developmental delays, may exhibit some mild behavioral issues or
emotional disturbances at age 2. But, the study found, those
problems don't persist after the youngsters' language skills catch
"Having a child who is not talking as much as other children can be very distressing for parents. Our findings suggest that parents should not be overly concerned that late-talking at age 2 years will result in enduring language and psychological difficulties for the child," said the study's lead author, Andrew Whitehouse, an associate professor and reader in developmental psychopathology at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research at the University of Western Australia in Subiaco.
Results of the study are scheduled to be published in the August
Pediatrics, but will first be released in the July 4 online edition of the journal.
As many as 18 percent of children have what's known as an
expressive language delay, according to background information in
the study. Expressive language is the ability to speak. Receptive
language is the ability to understand speech and gestures,
according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Most children's language skills eventually catch up to their
peers, but it wasn't clear whether or not those delays in being
able to express themselves would have any lasting effect on the
To get a better idea of how late-talking might affect later
psychological health, Whitehouse and his colleagues asked
caregivers of over 1,600 children to complete a Language
Development Survey, and found that 142 of the child were late to
The investigators followed the children for the next 17 years,
conducting five more language and psychosocial assessments, once
every two to three years.
At age 2, the late-talkers had increased levels of behavioral
and emotional problems, and Whitehouse said that the researchers
suspect the reason for these issues at this age was because the
toddlers were frustrated that they couldn't communicate.
He said that these behavioral and emotional issues didn't endure
once the children achieved normal language milestones, and if the
children had no other developmental delays.
"Our findings suggest that parents should not be overly concerned that late-talking at age 2 years will result in enduring language and psychological difficulties for the child. There is good evidence that most late-talking children will catch up to the language skills of other children," said Whitehouse.
"The best thing that parents can do is provide a rich language-learning environment for their children," he added. "This means getting down on the floor and playing with their child, talking with them, reading to them, interacting with them at their level."
"These findings are reassuring for parents. If toddlers just have an expressive language delay, it will often disappear by school age. And, an early history of an expressive language delay doesn't, in and of itself, put kids at risk for later emotional and behavioral problems," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park.
Though not addressed in this study, Adesman said that delays in
receptive language or responsiveness are of more concern and should
be further evaluated. Following are some receptive language
Learn more about language delays from the
American Academy of Pediatrics.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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