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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Speech Disorders in Children
      Category : Health Centers > Disabilities

Speech Disorders in Children

Alternate Names : Speech Impairments in Children

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Speech is defined as the use of the voice to express ideas. It is the same as talking or speaking. Some infants are born with disabilities that interfere with normal speech development. Other children acquire speech disorders after birth.

What is going on in the body?

Speech is not the same as language, though the two are often related. Language is any method of expression or communication, which may or may not be vocal. For example, a child may be unable to talk but still able to use sign language. There are many causes of speech disorders in children.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Many factors can contribute to speech disorders in children. Language disorders in children can lead to problems with speaking, writing, and other forms of communication. Physical or birth defects may interfere with the mechanics of speaking. An example would be a cleft palate, which is an abnormal space in the roof of the mouth. This defect interferes with the ability to pronounce certain words. Many children with Down syndrome have trouble producing speech because of physical differences.

Nervous system conditions or damage may affect coordination or speech centers in the brain. Nervous system disorders can result in a wide variety of speech problems, depending on the area of the brain that is affected. For example, damage to a nerve called the hypoglossal nerve can result in clumsiness of the tongue and interfere with pronunciation. Cerebral palsy, a type of brain damage often present at birth, may affect speech and language.

Deafness or hearing impairment can interfere with the child's ability to learn to speak. Stuttering is a condition without a known cause that often goes away on its own. Selective mutism occurs when a child chooses or pretends not to talk in certain settings. This usually indicates an emotional or psychiatric disturbance in the child. It may be caused by child abuse. Other causes of speech problems are also possible. Sometimes, no cause can be found.


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Speech Disorders in Children: Symptoms & Signs

Author: Adam Brochert, MD
Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
Date Reviewed: 07/06/01

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