Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology



Original Articles

Neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental outcome of children at age 6 and 7 years who screened positive for language problems at 30 months


Carmela Miniscalco  a1 c1, Gudrun Nygren  a2, Bibbi Hagberg  a2, Björn Kadesjö  a2 and Christopher Gillberg  a2
a1 Department of Logopedics and Phoniatrics, Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.
a2 Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.

Abstract

We present a prospective study at school age of neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental outcome of language delay suspected at child health screening around 30 months of age. In a community sample, 25 children (21 males, 4 females) screening positive and 80 children (38 males, 42 females) screening negative for speech and language problems at age 30 months were examined in detail for language disorders at age 6 years. The screen-positive children were then followed for another year and underwent in-depth neuropsychiatric examination by assessors blind to the results of previous testing. Detailed follow-up results at age 7 years were available for 21 children. Thirteen of these 21 children (62%) had a major neuropsychiatric diagnosis (autism, atypical autism, Asperger's syndrome, attention-deficit–hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]), or combinations of these. Two further children (10%) had borderline IQ with no other major diagnosis. We conclude that children in the general population who screen positive for speech and language problems before age 3 years appear to be at very high risk of autism spectrum disorders or ADHD, or both, at 7 years of age. Remaining language problems at age 6 years strongly predict the presence of neuropsychiatric or neurodevelopmental disorders at age 7 years.

(Published Online April 11 2006)
(Accepted July 25 2005)


Correspondence:
c1 Department of Logopedics and Phoniatrics, Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Box 452, SE 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden. E-mail: carmela.miniscalco@vgregion.se