Late talkers also tongue-tied later in life
One in five late talking toddlers continue to face language problem even till age seven, according to the latest data thrown up by a large study on language development.
The Australian 'Looking at Language' project, based on an analysis of 1,766 children, took environmental, neuro-developmental and genetic risk factors into account.
Project investigator Mabel Rice said the findings were mixed news for parents worried about their child's language development.
“While a late start doesn't necessarily predict on-going language problems, most school-aged children with impaired language were late talkers,” Rice said.
According to her, this is why it is essential that late talkers are professionally evaluated by a speech therapist and have their hearing checked. Early intervention, she added, can greatly assist a child's language development.
By 24 months, children will usually have a vocabulary of around 50 words and have begun combining those words in two or three word sentences.
Co-investigator Kate Taylor said the next challenge for researchers was to find ways to identify which children were likely to outgrow the problem so that interventions could be targeted at those in need.
“Our study has previously shown that 13 percent of 2-year-olds are late talkers and that boys are three times as likely to have a delay at that age,” Taylor said.
“What we now can see from our data is that by 7 years of age, 80 percent of late talkers have caught up, and that boys are at no greater risk than girls. However, one in five late talkers was below age expectations for language at school-age.”
Findings of the study have been published in the latest edition of the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research.