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Developmental language disorders at preschool age: no proof of benefit from screening
Date:8/17/2009

Language is a central element of social life. It is not only a prerequisite for personal relationships, but also for employment prospects. If a child's language development is impaired, this can have far-reaching negative consequences. Thus, it would be beneficial if those children who would benefit from targeted help could be identified at a very early stage.

However, the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) could not find any proof of benefit from language screening before their 6th birthday for children with a specific developmental disorder of speech and language. At present, there is a lack of screening studies and also of reliable diagnostic instruments. This is the conclusion in the final report, which IQWiG published on 17 August 2009.

No study exists on screening for specific developmental language disorders

Out of the studies that IQWiG identified on early detection of language disorders, there were none that investigated in particular the effects of language screening on children of preschool age with specific developmental disorders in speech and language. IQWiG therefore included in its investigation an assessment of existing diagnostic instruments and interventions in order to answer the question of whether the necessary requirements for a screening programme are met in Germany.

Diagnostic instruments not adequately validated

Out of 17 German-language tests, there was none where the diagnostic quality was adequately investigated in relation to the indication of specific developmental language disorders. Diagnostic instruments would have to be more comprehensively validated - including, for instance, clarification of how many follow-up examinations and/or treatments would be expected after screening. A particular challenge of diagnosing lies in distinguishing between a potential disorder and normal course of development in very young children.

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Contact: Dr. Anna-Sabine Ernst
info@iqwig.de
49-022-135-6850
Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care
Source:Eurekalert

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