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Research looks at stuttering differences in boys, girls
Date:10/21/2010

A Michigan State University researcher is hopeful that a recent National Institutes of Health grant she received will result in better treatment options and, ultimately, better lives for children who stutter.

Soo-Eun Chang, assistant professor of communicative sciences and disorders, will use a $1.8 million grant to conduct a five-year longitudinal study on brain development of children who stutter. The grant is from the NIH's National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Chang and colleagues will begin following children's development when they are between 4 and 6 years of age. She is specifically searching for brain clues to explain how stuttering differs between males and females.

"Previous studies have shown that girls are more likely to recover from childhood stuttering," Chang said. "We know that at 2 to 4 years of age, boys and girls stutter more equally. For some reason, there's a change that occurs when they are 4 to 6 years old. The girls start to recover within about two years, and often boys do not."

Chang will be studying brain scans of the children to see whether boys' and girls' brains develop differently to enable some to recover, and others to go on to have chronic stuttering for the rest of their lives.

"This work will hopefully change the face of stuttering diagnosis and treatment," she said. "It's the first series of studies to identify neural reasons for early childhood stuttering, and sexual differences that lead to recovery or persistence of stuttering."

Stuttering affects about 5 percent of children during the early stages of speech acquisition. Many of these children recover naturally, but some do not, leaving about 1 percent of the population who suffer from chronic developmental stuttering.

"This is a speech disorder that is notoriously difficult to treat," Chang said, and can be debilitating for some people who might experience social or occupational r
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Contact: Tom Oswald
tom.oswald@ur.msu.edu
517-432-0920
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

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