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This report presents knowledge about child care arrangements based on information on nearly 60,000 children in the MoBa cohort at 18 months of age during the period between 2001 and 2009. Second, we examined child care arrangements prior to 18 months age in the context of language skills, language-related difficulties and mental functioning in the nearly 13 000 children who have reached 5 years by the end of 2010.
The first finding is that half of the children that show delay in use of complex sentences at 36 months of age were also late in use of early communication skills at 18 months. Only a small subgroup parents is concerned about the language delay at 18 months and, subsequently, few are seen by special services this early. There is less variation in language skills at 36 months (more children score within normal variation), but those children that appear to be delayed in language development based on communication skills are also noted by parents to have delayed language development, and a greater proportion are referred to a specialist for assessment.
The second finding is that language-delayed children seem to have more co-existing difficulties than their peers without language delay. This association is seen for problems with motor development, hyperactivity, attention, aggression, anxiety and social difficulties. Furthermore, we see that there is a gender component, and more difficulties with language skills are related to delays in motor development and increased aggression in boys, whereas girls have higher frequencies of hyperactivity, inattention and anxiety. Interestingly, we found no gender differences in associations between language delay and social skills.
Finally, we want to highlight the association between children’s language development and the parents’ choice of day care. Among children in kindergarten, we see a smaller proportion of children with delayed language than amongst those cared for at home. Regardless of parents’ level of education, income or mother tongue, children in kindergarten are less likely to have language delays than those cared for at home. Likewise, children attending kindergarten are more likely to speak in long complex sentences than those cared for at home.