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J Speech Lang Hear Res. 1999 Dec;42(6):1461-81.

Prevalence of speech delay in 6-year-old children and comorbidity with language impairment.

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University of Wisconsin, Madison 53705, USA.


We estimate the prevalence of speech delay (L.D. Shriberg, D. Austin, B. A. Lewis, J. L. McSweeny, & D. L. Wilson, 1997b) in the United States on the basis of findings from a demographically representative population subsample of 1,328 monolingual English-speaking 6-year-old children. All children's speech and language had been previously assessed in the "Epidemiology of Specific Language Impairment" project (see J. B. Tomblin et al., 1997), which screened 7,218 children in stratified cluster samples within 3 population centers in the upper Midwest. To assess articulation, the Word Articulation subtest of the Test of Language Development-2: Primary (Newcomer & Hammill, 1988) was administered to each of the 1,328 children, and conversational speech samples were obtained for a subsample of 303 (23%) children. The 6 primary findings are as follows: (a) The prevalence of speech delay in 6-year-old children was 3.8%; (b) speech delay was approximately 1.5 times more prevalent in boys (4.5%) than girls (3.1%); (c) cross-tabulations by sex, residential strata, and racial/cultural backgrounds yielded prevalence rates for speech delay ranging from 0% to approximately 9%; (d) comorbidity of speech delay and language impairment was 1.3%, 0.51% with Specific Language Impairment (SLI); (e) approximately 11-15% of children with persisting speech delay had SLI; and (f) approximately 5-8% of children with persisting SLI had speech delay. Discussion includes implications of findings for speech-language phenotyping in genetics studies.

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