August 26, 2013
One In Ten Children Stutter, But It’s No Big Deal
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe OnlineLed by the University of Melbourne, researchers from several institutions teamed up to follow over 1,600 children from infancy to age four and found that they were more than twice as likely to develop a stuttering problem than previous studies indicated.
One might think that the 11 percent of kids who developed a stuttering problem would experience poorer outcomes during and after their preschool years, but the researchers actually found that these children showed better language development and non-verbal skills with no recognizable effect on the child's mental health or temperament.
Stuttering usually begins in children who are three or four years old, and there is no cure for the disorder. However, according to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), only 1 percent or fewer adults have a stuttering problem.
“Current best practice recommends waiting for 12 months before commencing treatment, unless the child is distressed, there is parental concern, or the child becomes reluctant to communicate. It may be that for many children treatment could be deferred slightly further,” said lead researcher Professor Sheena Reilly in a statement.
“Treatment is effective but is intensive and expensive, this watchful recommendation would therefore help target allocation of scarce resources to the small number of children who do not resolve and experience adverse outcomes, secure in the knowledge that delaying treatment for a year or slightly longer has been shown not to compromise treatment efficacy.”
A 2005 study found that children who were treated early on for their stuttering problem were able to improve the speaking disorder before they started school. This group of scientists was able to develop a program to treat stuttering that helped improve the problem. They found that after nine months, the reduction of stuttering in people in the group was significantly greater than natural recovery.
"Many cases of stuttering onset are mild, and we recommend 'watchful waiting' for a year as a reasonable approach," Reilly told HealthDay.
Heather Grossman, clinical director of the American Institute for Stuttering in New York told Health Day she would like to study whether or not children who stutter continue to develop problems as they age.
"There are some children who even at this young age do have these (emotional or social) issues," Grossman said. "This is something we now want to investigate as we follow the children up into the school years."