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US Preventive Services Task Force. The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services 2007: Recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2007 Sep.

  • This publication is provided for historical reference only and the information may be out of date.

This publication is provided for historical reference only and the information may be out of date.

Cover of The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services 2007

The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services 2007: Recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

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Screening for Speech and Language Delay in Preschool Children

Summary of Recommendation

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concludes that the evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against routine use of brief, formal screening instruments in primary care to detect speech and language delay in children up to 5 years of age. Rating: I Recommendation.

Clinical Considerations

  • It is the responsibility of primary care clinicians to seek and address parents' concerns and children's obvious speech and language delays despite the lack of evidence to support screening with brief formal instruments. Speech and language development is considered a useful early indicator of a child's overall development and cognitive ability, and clinical and parental concerns are important modes of identifying children with speech and language delay. Early identification of children with developmental delay (lateness in achieving milestones) or developmental disabilities (chronic conditions that result from mental or physical impairments), such as marked hearing deficits, may lead to intervention and family assistance at a young age when chances for improvement may be best.
  • Specific groups of children who already have been identified as at higher than average risk for speech and language delay, including children with other medical problems such as hearing deficits or craniofacial abnormalities, are not considered in this recommendation. The results of studies of other risk factors are inconsistent, so the USPSTF was unable to develop a list of specific risk factors to guide primary care providers in selective screening. The most consistently reported risk factors, however, include a family history of speech and language delay, male gender, and perinatal factors, such as prematurity and low birth-weight. Other risk factors reported less consistently include levels of parental education, specific childhood illnesses, birth order, and larger family size.

This USPSTF recommendation was first published in Pediatrics. 2006;117(2):497–501.

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