Preschoolers who stutter usually turn out OK

August 26, 2013 11:15:01 AM PDT
Stuttering when you speak can cause embarrassment, especially for children. But a new Australian study shows preschoolers who stutter are usually socially and emotionally stable.

Experts at Murdoch Children's Research Institute studied more than 16-hundred 4-year-old who stutter.

They found that by the age of 4, about 11 per cent of children stutter.

As expected, it was more common boys, twins, and children whose mothers were college-educated.

However, they were surprised to discover that stuttering in preschool years didn't have a big impact.

"In many areas they're actually doing better than other children," observed Kate Eshleman, Psy.D. , a child psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

"The study showed that they had better verbal or language skills, better non-verbal intelligence, and a better health-related quality of life," she added.

And there was no noticeable effect on a child's mental health or temperament at the age of 4.

Right now, doctors recommend waiting a year after stuttering develops before beginning treatment.

However, authors of the new study think the "watchful waiting" period could be longer.

If you are a parent of a child who stutters, don't hesitate to bring it up with the pediatrician, but don't worry unless the child becomes reluctant to communicate.

Dr. Eshleman says, "Stuttering can be difficult as a child is developing speech and so, for many kids, it may go away, but even for those that it does not, this study shows that those kids are not at any risk or disadvantage for more social, emotional, or behavioral problems."

The full study appears in the journal "Pediatrics."


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