WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Stuttering is more than twice as common in children as previous research has shown, with just over one-in-10 children showing its affects by the age of 4.
A new study from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute at the University of Melbourne followed 1,600 children from infancy to 4 years old, and found that the rate of stuttering was nearly 11 percent – more than double the previous estimates of 5 percent.
The study’s lead researcher, Professor Sheena Reilly, told Fox News that previous studies may have missed stuttering cases because they did not take into account children under the age of 3. The researchers found that most cases of stuttering occurred between two and three years of age.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, stuttering is a disorder characterized by disruptions in the production of speech sounds, also called “disfluencies.”
However, the study refutes the long held view that developmental stuttering is associated with a range of poorer outcomes in the preschool period. The researchers showed that intensive speech treatment before the age of four is effective and children don’t suffer anguish or delays in emotional or social development.
The study found that the reverse was true, with stuttering associated with better language development and non-verbal skills with no identifiable effect on the child’s mental health by the age of four.
“Parents can be reassured that developmental stuttering is not associated with poorer outcome in the pre-school years at least,” said Reilly. “What we usually say to parents is you can afford to wait for 12 months before seeking help, providing the child does not appear to be too aware of the stutter, is not being teased or bullied and there are not other problems.”
Reilly said scientists do not know what causes stuttering or why it continues into adulthood for some.
Recovery rates for stuttering were low – at less than 7 percent – with boys having more risk to start stuttering, but a higher likelihood of recovery than girls.
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