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Tots Who Are 'Late Talkers' Typically Turn Out Fine: Study
Date:7/5/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 5 (HealthDay News) -- Youngsters who aren't talking at age 2 generally aren't at risk for future behavioral or emotional problems as a result, suggests new research.

Kids who are speech-delayed, but don't have any other developmental delays, may exhibit some mild behavioral issues or emotional disturbances at age 2. But, the study found, those problems don't persist after the youngsters' language skills catch up.

"Having a child who is not talking as much as other children can be very distressing for parents. Our findings suggest that parents should not be overly concerned that late-talking at age 2 years will result in enduring language and psychological difficulties for the child," said the study's lead author, Andrew Whitehouse, an associate professor and reader in developmental psychopathology at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research at the University of Western Australia in Subiaco.

Results of the study are scheduled to be published in the August issue of Pediatrics, but will first be released in the July 4 online edition of the journal.

As many as 18 percent of children have what's known as an expressive language delay, according to background information in the study. Expressive language is the ability to speak. Receptive language is the ability to understand speech and gestures, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Most children's language skills eventually catch up to their peers, but it wasn't clear whether or not those delays in being able to express themselves would have any lasting effect on the late-talking children.

To get a better idea of how late-talking might affect later psychological health, Whitehouse and his colleagues asked caregivers of over 1,600 children to complete a Language Development Survey, and found that 142 of the child were late to start talking.

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