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Stuttering: Risk Factors

Topic Overview

During an evaluation for stuttering, a health professional will consider a child's risk factors to help find out whether the problem is temporary (normal disfluency) or likely to persist (developmental stuttering).

Risk factors (things that increase risk) for stuttering include:1

  • Having a family member whose stuttering did not resolve on its own.
  • Being male. Boys are more likely than girls to keep stuttering.
  • The age that it starts. Children who start to stutter before age 3½ are more likely to outgrow it than children who start to stutter at an older age.
  • The amount of time that it's lasted. A child who has stuttered for at least 6 months may be less likely to outgrow it on his or her own. If it's lasted longer than 12 months, there's even less of a chance that a child will outgrow it on his or her own.
  • How clear the speech is. A child who speaks clearly with few, if any, speech errors may be more likely to outgrow stuttering than a child whose speech errors make him or her hard to understand.
  • Having speech irregularities that have lasted 18 months or more.

Usually each risk factor taken individually is not significant. Rather, the strength of each risk factor and how many are present can help a health professional determine whether stuttering is likely to be a long-term problem.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Guitar B, Conture EG (2007). The Child Who Stutters: To the Pediatrician, revised 4th ed. (Publication No. 23). Memphis: Stuttering Foundation of America. Also available online: http://www.stutteringhelp.org/Portals/english/0023tped.pdf.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Last Revised August 7, 2012

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