A girl with a language delay is more likely to be referred to a specialist than a boy is, according to a recent study that surveyed 427 pediatricians. Doctors were given a series of hypothetical scenarios. When asked what they would do if an 18-month-old wasn't meeting speech milestones, doctors were 60 percent more likely to refer a girl for further testing than a boy. "It's true that boys may talk a little later than girls, so a delay can be normal and those children will eventually catch up," says lead researcher Laura Sices, MD, of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. But sometimes there really is a serious issue, Dr. Sices says, such as hearing impairment or cognitive problems, which are diagnosed in boys twice as often as in girls. Be vigilant about raising your concerns with your pediatrician, she adds. Ask about government-funded Early Intervention programs in your area.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, April 2004.
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