Neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental outcome of children at age 6 and 7 years who screened positive for language problems at 30 months

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2006 May;48(5):361-6. doi: 10.1017/S0012162206000788.


We present a prospective study at school age of neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental outcome of language delay suspected at child health screening around 30 months of age. In a community sample, 25 children (21 males, 4 females) screening positive and 80 children (38 males, 42 females) screening negative for speech and language problems at age 30 months were examined in detail for language disorders at age 6 years. The screen-positive children were then followed for another year and underwent in-depth neuropsychiatric examination by assessors blind to the results of previous testing. Detailed follow-up results at age 7 years were available for 21 children. Thirteen of these 21 children (62%) had a major neuropsychiatric diagnosis (autism, atypical autism, Asperger's syndrome, attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]), or combinations of these. Two further children (10%) had borderline IQ with no other major diagnosis. We conclude that children in the general population who screen positive for speech and language problems before age 3 years appear to be at very high risk of autism spectrum disorders or ADHD, or both, at 7 years of age. Remaining language problems at age 6 years strongly predict the presence of neuropsychiatric or neurodevelopmental disorders at age 7 years.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology*
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Dyslexia / diagnosis
  • Dyslexia / epidemiology*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Language Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Language Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Language Tests
  • Learning Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Learning Disabilities / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Motor Skills Disorders / diagnosis
  • Motor Skills Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index