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Late Talking Toddlers Not A Problem Study Finds

Late talking children may not be at risk for behavioral and emotional problems

Late talking children may not be at risk for behavioral and emotional problems, study found

A study by Australian researchers has found that children who start to talk later in life are not at greater risk for behavioral and emotional problems when they are older than others who do express themselves earlier, provided there are no other developmental problems.

The lead author of the study is Andrew J.O. Whitehouse, who is an associate professor at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research at the University of Western Australia in Perth. The study looked at children who were born between 1989 and 1991 and followed them from ages 2 to 17.

The study, which was published on Monday in the Pediatrics journal, followed nearly 1,400 children who were born between 1989 and 1991, from ages 2 to 17. The parents of these children gave details of their child’s language skills six times during this period, beginning when they were 2 and ending at age 17. Also, the parents completed questionnaires which were designed to find children with emotional or behavioral problems.

Whitehouse said that by around 2 years of age, children generally have a vocabulary of about 50 words, and are able to string 2 or 3 words together,but he reported that between 7 and 18 per cent of toddlers are not able to do this. The study compared 142 late talkers who had no other developmental issues with 1,245 others who were able to use language skills. He also said that “When late-talking children catch up to normal language milestones, which the majority of children do, the behavioral and emotional problems are no longer apparent,”

The results showed that although the late talkers did tend to show some behavioral and emotional issues when they were younger, once the children grew more proficient at speaking these problems declined. Whitehouse said that “When late-talking children catch up to normal language milestones, which the majority of children do, the behavioral and emotional problems are no longer apparent,”

Dr. Carlos Lerner who is a pediatrician and an assistant professor at the UCLA Medical Center as well as a medical director of the UCLA Children’s Health Center, commented that the study is encouraging for parents of late talkers, but also said “I wouldn’t be as dismissive of those delays.” He suggested that parents of late talkers can help their children’s speech by restricting television, and spending more time reading and talking with their children.

Pediatrician Dr. Carlos Lerner, an assistant professor at the UCLA Medical Center and medical director of the UCLA Children’s Health Center, said parents of children with delayed speech should feel encouraged by the study, but cautioned, “I wouldn’t be as dismissive of those delays.”

Parents can help improve their children’s speech by restricting TV and spending more time talking and reading to their kids, Lerner said.

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Pat has a lifelong passion for home and garden, cultivating her own extensive lawns and gardens and providing interior decorating advice.

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