Clinical Characteristics Associated With Stuttering Persistence: A Meta-Analysis

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2020 Sep 15;63(9):2995-3018. doi: 10.1044/2020_JSLHR-20-00096. Epub 2020 Aug 10.


Purpose The purpose of this meta-analytic study was to identify clinical characteristics, defined as child factors that can be assessed by a speech-language pathologist as part of a routine speech-language evaluation that may differentiate children who persist in stuttering from children who eventually recover from stuttering. Clinical characteristics explored included sex, age at onset, family history of stuttering, stuttering frequency and severity, speech-language skills, and temperament. Method Studies were identified through electronic databases, journals, and reference lists of relevant reports (e.g., research articles). Eligible studies followed young children who stutter (i.e., under 6 years old) for at least 24 months, assessed a potential clinical marker at study entry, and determined talker group classification (i.e., persistent or recovered) at study completion. Sex and family history differences were estimated using risk ratios; all other differences were estimated using Hedges's g. Heterogeneity and methodological differences among studies were evaluated. Results Eleven studies (41 reports) met eligibility criteria. Persistent children were older at stuttering onset and exhibited higher frequencies of stuttering-like disfluencies, lower speech sound accuracy, and lower expressive and receptive language skills than recovered children. Males and children with a family history of stuttering were also more likely to persist. Conclusions Clinical characteristics were identified that are associated with increased risk for stuttering persistence. Future studies have the potential to translate these clinical characteristics into prognostic markers for stuttering persistence risk.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Language Tests
  • Male
  • Speech
  • Speech Production Measurement
  • Stuttering* / epidemiology