Sheena Reilly of the University of Melbourne and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and colleagues found when a preschool child starts to stutter, parents and educationists can be very concerned, but these young children appear to do fine emotionally and socially.
The study, published online and scheduled to be published in the September issue of Pediatrics, found stuttering in the preschool years was associated with better language development and non-verbal skills, with no identifiable effect on the child's mental health or temperament at age 4.
Although stuttering onset is common in preschoolers, adverse affects are not the norm in the first year after onset, the researchers said.
The study involved 1,619 Australian 4-year-olds who stuttered. Researchers found the cumulative incidence of stuttering onset by age 4 years was 11 percent. The researchers also found that recovery from stuttering was low, at 6.3 percent 12 months after onset, but rates of recovery were higher in boys than girls, and in those who did not repeat whole words at onset than those who did.
Higher rates of stuttering most often occurred in boys, twins and children whose mothers were college-educated.