Speech and Language Delay in Children

Am Fam Physician. 2023 Aug;108(2):181-188.


Childhood speech and language concerns are commonly encountered in the primary care setting. Family physicians are integral in the identification and initial evaluation of children with speech and language delays. Parental concerns and observations and milestone assessment aid in the identification of speech and language abnormalities. Concerning presentations at 24 months or older include speaking fewer than 50 words, incomprehensible speech, and notable speech and language deficits on age-specific testing. Validated screening tools that rely on parental reporting can serve as practical adjuncts during clinic evaluation. Early referral for additional evaluation can mitigate the development of long-term communication disorders and adverse effects on social and academic development. All children who have concerns for speech and language delays should be referred to speech language pathology and audiology for diagnostic and management purposes. Parents and caretakers may also self-refer to early intervention programs for evaluation and management of speech and language concerns in children younger than three years.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Early Medical Intervention
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Development Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Language Development Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Language Development Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Risk
  • United States