Posts Tagged ‘ speech delays ’

Toddler Babble May Be Stand-Ins for Grammatical Words

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

The squeaks and puffs that babies and young toddlers make may actually be their way of imitating actual grammatical words, according to a new study that recorded tens of thousands of sounds made by French-speaking children between 23 and 37 months of age.  The findings could have implications for how researchers understand language development and delays, and how they treat it.  More from LiveScience:

“Many of the toddlers we studied made a small sound, a soft breath, or a pause, at exactly the place that a grammatical word would normally be uttered,” [Newcastle University researcher Cristina] Dye said in a statement.

“The fact that this sound was always produced in the correct place in the sentence leads us to believe that young children are knowledgeable of grammatical words. They are far more sophisticated in their grammatical competence than we ever understood.”

Though Dye was studying French-speaking toddlers, she and her colleagues expect their findings to apply to other languages as well. She also thinks their results could have implications for understanding language delay in children.

“When children don’t learn to speak normally it can lead to serious issues later in life,” Dye said in a statement. “For example, those who have it are more likely to suffer from mental illness or be unemployed later in life. If we can understand what is ‘normal’ as early as possible then we can intervene sooner to help those children.”

Previous research has shown that toddlers, before they articulate full sentences themselves, may be able to understand complex grammar. A 2011 study published in the journal Cognitive Science found that as early as 21 months, children could match made-up verbs with pictures that made sense grammatically. For example, if they were told “The rabbit is glorping the duck,” they would point to a picture of a rabbit lifting a duck’s leg rather than the duck lifting its leg on its own.

Image: Baby talking on a phone, via Shutterstock

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Mom’s Depression May Delay Baby’s Language

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

A new study has found that a mother who suffers from depression during pregnancy may expect to see some language delays in her baby.  The study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, tested babies at ages 6 months and 10 months, each time measuring the babies’ abilities to distinguish between similar sounds in different language, and engage with people who are speaking different languages when the speakers’ voices are muted.

In typically developing children, 6-month-olds can easily make distinctions between two languages, and 10-month-olds cannot, revealing a critical window for language development in young brains.  The study, however, found that babies whose mothers were depressed but took no medication during pregnancy experienced a delay; they “passed the test” at 10 months, but failed it at 6 months.  Babies whose mothers took antidepressants during pregnancy failed the test at both ages.

CNN.com has more:

“What’s going on here? Researchers aren’t sure, and they don’t know if it’s good or bad. One explanation for delay in the depressed-but-not-medicated group is that those kids weren’t being exposed to as much engaging speech because their mothers were depressed.

Alternatively, the brain chemicals from the mother associated with depression could have something to do with it. And the antidepressants could be impacting the child’s brain development in the group whose mothers took these medications.

Are there long-lasting consequences of delays, or advancements, in this critical period of language sensitivity? No one knows. More research needs to be done in order to determine the implications of the findings of this study.”

Image: Mom and baby, via Shutterstock

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