Environmental effects on language development in normal and high-risk child populations

Semin Pediatr Neurol. 2002 Sep;9(3):192-200. doi: 10.1053/spen.2002.35499.


This report describes language development from infancy through 8 years of life for a large sample of very low birth weight (VLBW) (high medical risk, n = 94; low medical risk, n = 132) and term (n = 134) children. Children of high and low medical risk status showed lower levels and slower rates of development compared with term children. Although these children also showed nonverbal cognitive deficits, their language difficulties appeared to be independent of these general cognitive problems. Although lower socioeconomic status (SES) showed strong negative effects on rate of language development, this was comparable across the three risk groups. Within this generally lower SES sample of children, the type of interactive behaviors caregivers used in early childhood showed significant relations to skill growth. Children with faster rates of language growth had mothers who maintained their interests more often and were less likely to use highly directive behaviors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Language Development*
  • Language Tests
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment*
  • Socioeconomic Factors