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Dev Med Child Neurol. 2000 Mar;42(3):190-200.

The feasibility of universal screening for primary speech and language delay: findings from a systematic review of the literature.

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Department of Language and Communication Science, City University, London, UK.


This paper reports on a systematic review of the literature commissioned to examine the feasibility of universal screening for speech and language delay. The results, based on an examination of productivity figures, including positive predictive ability and likelihood ratio, indicate that a number of screening tests are adequate. Sensitivity was generally lower than specificity, and study quality was inversely related to both sensitivity and likelihood ratio, suggesting that it is easier to identify accurately children who do not have language and speech problems than those who do. The review concluded that there is insufficient evidence to warrant the introduction of universal screening at this stage. This paper discusses the type of data that would be needed to address this issue further and recommendations are made for alternative approaches to early identification.

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