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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 947018, 8 pages
Research Article

Language Delay Is Not Predictable from Available Risk Factors

1Centre for Rural Health, University of Aberdeen, Inverness IV2 3JH, UK
2Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, RHSC Yorkhill, Glasgow G3 8SJ, UK
3Robertson Centre for Biostatistics, Boyd Orr Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

Received 10 February 2013; Accepted 21 February 2013

Academic Editors: E. Fernell, C. Gillberg, and H. Minnis

Copyright © 2013 Philip Wilson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Aims. To investigate factors associated with language delay in a cohort of 30-month-old children and determine if identification of language delay requires active contact with families. Methods. Data were collected at a pilot universal 30-month health contact. Health visitors used a simple two-item language screen. Data were obtained for 315 children; language delay was found in 33. The predictive capacity of 13 variables which could realistically be known before the 30-month contact was analysed. Results. Seven variables were significantly associated with language delay in univariate analysis, but in logistic regression only five of these variables remained significant. Conclusion. The presence of one or more risk factors had a sensitivity of 89% and specificity of 45%, but a positive predictive value of only 15%. The presence of one or more of these risk factors thus can not reliably be used to identify language delayed children, nor is it possible to define an “at risk” population because male gender was the only significant demographic factor and it had an unacceptably low specificity (52.5%). It is not possible to predict which children will have language delay at 30 months. Identification of this important ESSENCE disorder requires direct clinical contact with all families.