The feasibility of universal screening for primary speech and language delay: findings from a systematic review of the literature

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2000 Mar;42(3):190-200. doi: 10.1017/s0012162200000335.


This paper reports on a systematic review of the literature commissioned to examine the feasibility of universal screening for speech and language delay. The results, based on an examination of productivity figures, including positive predictive ability and likelihood ratio, indicate that a number of screening tests are adequate. Sensitivity was generally lower than specificity, and study quality was inversely related to both sensitivity and likelihood ratio, suggesting that it is easier to identify accurately children who do not have language and speech problems than those who do. The review concluded that there is insufficient evidence to warrant the introduction of universal screening at this stage. This paper discusses the type of data that would be needed to address this issue further and recommendations are made for alternative approaches to early identification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Language Development Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Mass Screening*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Speech Disorders / diagnosis*