Language development in children with spina bifida

Semin Pediatr Neurol. 2002 Sep;9(3):201-8. doi: 10.1053/spen.2002.35500.


Spina bifida meningomyelocele (SBM) is the most common severely disabling birth defect in North America. It is a disorder of the central nervous system that includes, in addition to the defining spinal dysraphism, congenital malformations of the cerebellum and corpus callosum that, along with hydrocephalus, produces a range of cognitive and motor difficulties, including language. In the language domain, many children with SBM demonstrate adequate development of language at the level of form and content (grammar and lexicon). However, most children with SBM experience significant difficulties in the construction of meaning and in pragmatic communication, both of which require flexible language processing in real time. Assessment and intervention should specifically attend to the development of meaning construction and semantic-pragmatic communication.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Language Development*
  • Language Disorders / etiology
  • Language Therapy
  • Linguistics / education
  • Linguistics / methods
  • Models, Educational
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Speech
  • Spinal Dysraphism / physiopathology*
  • Spinal Dysraphism / psychology
  • Verbal Learning / physiology