Almost 8 Percent of U.S. Children Have a Communication or Swallowing Disorder Nearly one in 12 children ages 3–17 has had a disorder related to voice, speech, language or swallowing in the past 12 months, and more than half of them receive intervention, according to results of the first nationally representative survey of these disorders among children in the United States. Data ... News in Brief
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News in Brief  |   August 01, 2015
Almost 8 Percent of U.S. Children Have a Communication or Swallowing Disorder
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Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   August 01, 2015
Almost 8 Percent of U.S. Children Have a Communication or Swallowing Disorder
The ASHA Leader, August 2015, Vol. 20, 10. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB1.20082015.10
The ASHA Leader, August 2015, Vol. 20, 10. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB1.20082015.10
Nearly one in 12 children ages 3–17 has had a disorder related to voice, speech, language or swallowing in the past 12 months, and more than half of them receive intervention, according to results of the first nationally representative survey of these disorders among children in the United States.
Data in “Communication Disorders and Use of Intervention Services Among Children Aged 3–17 Years: United States, 2012,” a supplement to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, were prepared by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) of the National Institutes of Health.
The data indicate that of the 7.7 percent of children with a communication or swallowing disorder, 5 percent have speech problems; 3.3 percent have language problems; 1.4 percent have voice difficulties; and 0.9 percent have swallowing difficulties.
Of the affected, more than a third (34 percent) of children ages 3–10 and about a quarter (25.4 percent) of children ages 11–17 have more than one of these disorders.
The study analyzed information about one child randomly selected from each family participating in the national health survey. Based on the analysis, researchers found that young children ages 3–6, boys and non-Hispanic black children are more likely than other children to have a communication or swallowing disorder.
NIDCD acknowledges that early diagnosis and intervention services have shown to be effective in treating communication and swallowing disorders, leading to better quality of life, and in some cases, better academic success. According to the data, children who have speech or language problems are more likely to receive intervention services, 67.6 percent and 66.8 percent respectively, than those who have voice disorder (22.8 percent) or swallowing problems (12.7 percent).
The data brief also highlights demographic differences among children with communication and swallowing disorders:
  • Boys (9.6 percent) are more likely than girls (5.7 percent) to have a communication disorder.

  • The highest prevalence of communication disorders is among children ages 3–6 (11 percent), compared to 9.3 percent of children ages 7–10, and 4.9 percent of children ages 11–17.

  • Black children (9.6 percent) were more likely to have a communication disorder than white children (7.8 percent) and Hispanic children (6.9 percent).

The study also revealed demographic differences among children who had received services to address their communication or swallowing disorders.
  • White children with communication or swallowing disorders are more likely to receive intervention services, compared to Hispanic and black children, at 60.1 percent, 47.3 percent and 45.8 percent respectively.

  • Boys (59.4 percent) are more likely than girls (47.8 percent) to receive intervention services.

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August 2015
Volume 20, Issue 8