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Children with language difficulties - risk factors and developmental paths - project description

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Foto: Folkehelseinstituttet (FHI)

The overall objective of this study is to obtain knowledge about children's normal language development, find the factors that contribute to variations in language skills, as well as learn more about how environmental and hereditary factors contribute to the development of language disorders in children. A particular focus of the project is to study developmental pathways of delayed language development at 5 years and stability and change in language difficulties and associated problems from 18 months of age until they are well into school age (8 years).


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Summary

Background

As many as 12% of pre-school children seem to have difficulty learning to speak fluently, with good grammar, at the expected age. Half of them seem to "grow out of it" at school entry. Nevertheless, there is a large percentage of children who have language difficulties in pre-school age, who eventually also struggle to learn to read and write. Children with language difficulties often have problems being understood and understanding others. A language delay can make it difficult to use language in interaction with others (pragmatics) and contribute to rejection by peers and difficulties in being accepted socially. Low participation in social interaction can in turn lead to inadequate training in communication skills. Increased knowledge about how delayed language development influences daily functioning emphasises the need to learn more about what language delay is related to, how early the condition can be detected, and the factors that contribute to improved language skills. Such knowledge will increase the understanding of what might constitute good interventions for pre-school children with language difficulties.

Objectives

The project will identify: 

  • Risk factors for developing a language and communication delay at 18 and 36 months and at 5 and 8 years. 
  • Whether temperamental characteristics influence how children with language difficulties master social interaction. 
  • Characteristics of children with a different developmental course of language difficulties from 3 to 5 years. 
  • Conditions that predict different types of language problems developed by 5 and 8 years. 
  • Conditions that predict whether language difficulties at 3 years will be temporary or persist until 5 years of age. 
  • What influences the relationship between language difficulties at 3 and 5 years and difficulties with reading and writing at age 8. 
  • Relationships between language skills and social skills at 5 years.

The project will also contribute to knowledge about how conditions in the pre-and neonatal period affect language development in children, including: 

  • Relationships between language and attention from 18 to 36 months in children born prematurely 
  • How factors during the pre-and neonatal period influence language development and social-cognitive functions in "vulnerable" children.

The project uses data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, and is funded by the Ministry of Education.

Researchers

The project started on January 2008 and is currently funded until 2016. The study is run by Project Leader Synnve Schjølberg (Cand.Psychol.), Patricia Eadie (Ph.D., Speech Therapist) and Luisa Ribeiro Kvalbein (Ph.D. psychologist) in collaboration with internationally renowned researchers (Professor Mabel Rice, USA, Professor Cathy Lord USA, Professor Margot Prior, Australia). Other partners at NIPH are Professor Per Magnus, Division of Epidemiology, NIPH and researcher and department director Kristin S. Mathiesen, Division of Mental Health.

Publications

Wang, Mari Vaage; Lekhal, Ratib; Aarø, Leif Edvard; Schjølberg, Synnve. Co-occurring development of early childhood communication and motor skills: results from a population-based longitudinal study. Child: Care, Health and Development, 2014 (NIPH)

Zambrana, Imac Maria; Ystrøm, Eivind; Schjølberg, Synnve, and Pons, Francisco
Action Imitation at 1½ Years Is Better Than Pointing Gesture in Predicting Late Development of Language Production at 3 Years of Age. Child development 2013, Volume 84, Issue 2, s. 560–573. (FHI, UiO)

Zambrana, Imac Maria; Pons, Francisco, Eadie, Patricia; Ystrøm , Eivind. Trajectories of language delay from age 3 to 5: persistence, recovery and late onset. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders: December 2013.

Lekhal, Ratib, von Soest, Tilmann, Wang, Mari Vaage, Aukrust, Vibeke G., Schjølberg, Synnve Norway’s high-quality center care reduces late talking in high- and low-risk groups. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: September 2012 - Volum 33 (7) s. 562–569 (FHI UiO)

Zambrana, Imac Maria; Ystrøm, Eivind; Pons, Francisco. Impact of gender, maternal education, and birth order on the development of language comprehension: A population-based longitudinal cohort study from age 18 to 36 months. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: February/March 2012 - Volum 33 (2) s. 146–155. 
(FHI UiO)

Lekhal, Ratib; Zachrisson, Henrik Daae; Wang, Mari Vaage; Schjølberg, Synnve; Von Soest, Tilmann. Does universally accessible child care protect children from late talking? Results from a Norwegian population-based prospective study.Early Child Development and Care 2011 ;Volum 181.(8) s. 1007-1019, (FHI)

Ribiero, Luisa A; Zachrisson, Henrik Daae; Schjølberg, Synnve; Aase, Heidi; Baumgartner, Nina; Magnus, Per. Attention problems and language development in preterm low-birth-weight children: Cross-lagged relations from 18 to 36 months. BMC Pediatrics 2011; Volum 11. (NIPH)

Roth, Christine; Magnus, Per; Schjølberg, Synnve; Stoltenberg, Camilla; Suren, Pål; McKeague, Ian W; Smith, George Davey; Reichborn-Kjennerud, Ted; Susser, Ezra. Folic acid supplements in pregnancy and severe language delay in children. Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) 2011 ;Volum 306.(14) s. 1566-1573, (FHI, UiO)

Schjølberg, Synnve; Eadie, Patricia; Zachrisson, Henrik Daae; Øyen, Anne-Siri; Prior, Margot.Predicting Language Development at Age 18 Months: Data From the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study.Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 2011 ;Volum 32.(5) s. 375-383, (FHI)

Schjølberg, Synnve; Lekhal, Ratib; Vartun, Marika; Helland, Siri Saugestad; Mathiesen, Kristin Schjelderup. Report 2011:5. Childcare up to 18 months. Associations between childcare up to 18 months, language skills and mental functioning at 5 years. Folkehelseinstituttet. (FHI)

Schjølberg, Synnve; Lekhal, Ratib; Wang, Mari Vaage; Zambrana, Imac Maria; Mathiesen, Kristin S.; Magnus, Per; Roth, Christine. Report 2008:10. Delayed language development. A current overview based on data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Folkehelseinstituttet (FHI)

Vartun, M., Helland, S.S., Wang, M.V., Lekhal, R. og Schjølberg, S. (2012): En barnehage preget av kompetanse og trivsel (pdf). Første steg nr 3/ 2012, Utdanningsforbundet.

Helland, S.S., Vartun, M, Melkevik, O., Lekhal, R. og Schjølberg, S. (2012): Barnehagen som arena for vekst og trivsel (pdf).Første steg nr 2/ 2012, Utdanningsforbundet.