No AccessJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing ResearchResearch Article1 Apr 2010

Risk and Protective Factors Associated With Speech and Language Impairment in a Nationally Representative Sample of 4- to 5-Year-Old Children

    Purpose

    To determine risk and protective factors for speech and language impairment in early childhood.

    Method

    Data are presented for a nationally representative sample of 4,983 children participating in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (described in McLeod & Harrison, 2009). Thirty-one child, parent, family, and community factors previously reported as being predictors of speech and language impairment were tested as predictors of (a) parent-rated expressive speech/language concern and (b) receptive language concern, (c) use of speech-language pathology services, and (d) low receptive vocabulary.

    Results

    Bivariate logistic regression analyses confirmed 29 of the identified factors. However, when tested concurrently with other predictors in multivariate analyses, only 19 remained significant: 9 for 2–4 outcomes and 10 for 1 outcome. Consistent risk factors were being male, having ongoing hearing problems, and having a more reactive temperament. Protective factors were having a more persistent and sociable temperament and higher levels of maternal well-being. Results differed by outcome for having an older sibling, parents speaking a language other than English, and parental support for children’s learning at home.

    Conclusion

    Identification of children requiring speech and language assessment requires consideration of the context of family life as well as biological and psychosocial factors intrinsic to the child.

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