Fort Myers speech therapist child speech delays

Risk Factors for Child Speech Delays – Fort Myers Speech Therapist Insight

Child speech delays are very common. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, an estimated 1 in 10 children has delayed speech or language development. As any Fort Myers speech therapist will tell you, the earlier such delays are diagnosed, the faster they can be treated – and the better the long-term prognosis. This is why increasingly, practitioners do NOT recommend a “wait-and-see” approach if a child speech delay is suspected.

Beyond that, research shows that certain children may be at higher risk than others.

One recently-published, peer-reviewed cross-sectional study on child speech delay risk factors, researchers identified the following markers:

  • Males
  • Long-term sucking habits
  • Pre-term birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Problems during pregnancy or complications during birth (including hypertension, preeclampsia, etc.)
  • Hearing problems
  • Frequent middle ear infections
  • Oropharyngeal deformity (occurring in the middle of the throat)
  • Family history of speech and language delay (65 percent of those in the study had a first-degree relative with a similar condition)
  • Being first-born
  • Earlier introduction to screen time
  • Maternal illiteracy

Fort Myers Speech Therapist Can Treat Speech Delays Regardless of Cause

Of course, there’s no single risk factor that guarantees a child will have speech delays. Obviously, not all first-born children are going to be late in talking. But these findings do underscore something any Fort Myers speech therapist is likely to tell you as well: There’s an element of both nature and nurture at play. Some of it involves genetics, but the risk can be further elevated by environmental factors (like earlier screen time, less face-to-face interactions, less time spent reading to a child, etc.).

Of course, this is just one study, and it’s limited by the fact that the pool of those studied are only those who received care at a single hospital over a period of time. But there is a great deal of additional research that backs these findings – and identifies other risk factors as well.

Child speech delays can have MANY underlying causes, often overlapping. Some of these include:

  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Autism
  • Receptive aphasia
  • Psychosocial deprivation
  • Expressive language disorder
  • Premature birth
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Down Syndrome

Sometimes, there’s no obvious cause – and that’s Ok! A Fort Myers speech therapist can treat the symptoms and focus on helping the child catch up to where they need to be for their developmental age – regardless of whether we ever zero in on the “why.”

Although it’s true that children develop at varying rates and a singular red flag isn’t cause for alarm, missed milestones shouldn’t be ignored. A physician’s referral is typically required for a child to undergo a speech-language evaluation by a Fort Myers speech therapist. If you aren’t sure whether to raise your concerns to your child’s pediatrician, FOCUS offers free initial screenings. This will provide you with something beyond your own concern to bring to the doctor when requesting a more in-depth assessment.

FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

Speech and language delay in children: Prevalence and risk factors, May 2019, Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care

More Blog Entries:

Break Those Bad Screen Time Habits With These Tips From FOCUS Therapy, March 17, 2023, Fort Myers Speech Therapist Blog

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