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Skip Navigation U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Healthcare Research Quality

Screening for Speech and Language Delay in Preschool Children

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Release Date: February 2006

Summary of Recommendations / Supporting Documents

Summary of Recommendation

  • The USPSTF concludes that the evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against routine use of brief, formal screening instruments in primary care to detect speech and language delay in children up to 5 years of age.

    Rating: "I" statement.

    Rationale: Speech and language delay affects 5 to 8 percent of preschool children, often persists into the school years, and may be associated with lowered school performance and psychosocial problems. The USPSTF found insufficient evidence that brief, formal screening instruments that are suitable for use in primary care for assessing speech and language development can accurately identify children who would benefit from further evaluation and intervention. Fair evidence suggests that interventions can improve the results of short-term assessments of speech and language skills; however, no studies have assessed long-term outcomes. Furthermore, no studies have assessed any additional benefits that may be gained by treating children identified through brief, formal screening who would not be identified by addressing clinical or parental concerns. No studies have addressed the potential harms of screening or interventions for speech and language delays, such as labeling, parental anxiety, or unnecessary evaluation and intervention. Thus, the USPSTF could not determine the balance of benefits and harms of using brief, formal screening instruments to screen for speech and language delay in the primary care setting.

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Supporting Documents

Screening for Speech and Language Delay in Preschool Children, February 2006
Recommendation Statement (PDF File, 78 KB; PDF Help)
Systematic Evidence Review (PDF File, 560 KB; PDF Help)
Evidence Synthesis (PDF File Download)

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Current as of February 2006

Internet Citation:

Screening for Speech and Language Delay in Preschool Children, Topic Page. February 2006. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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