Objective. To examine the factors predicting changes in language skills between 2 and 3 years. Methods. By using longitudinal data concerning 1002 children from the EDEN study, linear regression was used to predict 3-year language performance from 2-year language performance and the risk factors associated with language delays. Logistic regressions were performed to examine two change trajectories: children who fall below the 10th percentile of language skills between 2 and 3 years (declining trajectory), and those who rose above the 10th percentile (resilient trajectory). Results. The final linear model accounted for 43% of the variance in 3-year language scores, with 2-year language scores accounting for 22%. Exposure to alcohol during pregnancy, earlier birth term, lower level of parental education and lower frequency of maternal stimulation were associated with the declining trajectory. Breastfeeding was associated with the resilient trajectory. Conclusions. This study provides a better understanding of the natural history of early language delays by identifying biological and social factors that predict changes in language skills between the ages of 2 and 3 years.
Keywords: Child; Language delays; Longitudinal study; Preschool; Trajectory.