New Screening Tools Boost Early Detection of Language Delays in Children

New Screening Tools Boost Early Detection of Language Delays in Children

Early language and communication difficulties in children can now be identified more effectively, thanks to new screening tools developed by researchers at Uppsala University in collaboration with Region Gotland. The studies, based on data from the medical records of over 6,000 children, highlight the importance of early screening in identifying children who could benefit from speech and language therapy.

The Child Health and Parenting (CHAP) research group at Uppsala University, in partnership with Region Gotland, conducted two studies focusing on early language development and language difficulties. The research, based on data from 2016 to 2022, demonstrated the effectiveness of the new screening tools in child health care.

The first study, published in Acta Paediatrica, evaluated the impact of introducing Språkfyran, a screening of four-year-olds involving tasks such as imitating sounds and pointing to pictures. The study, which included medical record data from over 3,500 children, revealed a significant increase in referrals to speech therapists following the introduction of Språkfyran, from 0.4 to 6.9 per cent. Pediatrician Anna Levin, coordinator of child health services on Gotland, emphasized the importance of early identification of children in need of speech therapy.

The second study, published in BMJ Paediatrics Open, assessed the implementation of the Infant-Toddler Checklist (ITC) at the 18-month visit to child health services. The ITC, a questionnaire for parents, led to a high screening rate of 93 per cent and more referrals to child speech and language therapy, indicating its effectiveness in identifying communication and language disorders at an early stage.

These findings provide valuable insights for the potential introduction of these screening methods and underscore the significant impact of effective screening tools in identifying and addressing language delays in children.


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