Is your toddler not talking yet? Don’t fret says study

By @ibtimesau on


Parents who are worried that their child hasn't started talking by age two shouldn't be worried according to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics. Children who were late talkers at age 2 did not show any increased risk of behavioral or emotional problems throughout their childhood or adolescence.

Parents worry when their child is struggling to form words at age two and fear that their development could be stunted. The new study led by Andrew Whitehouse at Telethon Institute for Child Health research at the University of Western Australia found that toddlers who talk late will not develop any lasting emotional or behavioral problems.

The study which is the first of its kind studied more than 1,300 2 year olds and tracked them until they were 17 years old. The team assessed the children at age 2. Out of the 1387 children, 1245 were already saying 50 words and could string two or three words and were considered "normal". 10 percent or 142 children were classed as late talkers.

Children who haven't talked by age 2 were previously thought to have behavioral difficulties later on. The 142 children who were considered late talkers were regularly assessed until they turned 17. The study discovered that these late talkers didn't develop behavior problems. Eighty percent of the late talkers were already talking with their peers when they started school.

The scientists found that while late-talkers will exhibit emotional and behavioral problems at age 2 these problems will eventually go away when they start talking. Professor Whitehouse said in an email: "They were at no more risk for these problems at later ages." He adds that the behavioral problems the toddlers have are more about being frustrated at not being able to communicate than a sign of a serious psychosocial issue like ADD.

Parents shouldn't be too concerned if their child doesn't meet the language milestone set by pediatricians. "Parents should not be overly concerned that late-talking at age 2 years will result in enduring language and psychological difficulties for the child," says Whitehouse. "There is good evidence that most late-talking children will 'catch up' to the language skills of other children."

While some children could simply be late bloomers it doesn't mean that all language delays should be dismissed. If the child hasn't talked by the time he or she enters school it could be time to seek help.



Join the Discussion