Prevalence of Specific Language Impairment in Kindergarten Children This epidemiologic study estimated the prevalence of specific language impairment (SLI) in monolingual English-speaking kindergarten children. From a stratified cluster sample in rural, urban, and suburban areas in the upper midwest, 7,218 children were screened. The language screening failure rate was 26.2%. Children who failed the screening and a similar ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 1997
Prevalence of Specific Language Impairment in Kindergarten Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • J. Bruce Tomblin
    The University of Iowa Iowa City
  • Nancy L. Records
    The University of Iowa Iowa City
  • Paula Buckwalter
    The University of Iowa Iowa City
  • Xuyang Zhang
    The University of Iowa Iowa City
  • Elaine Smith
    The University of Iowa Iowa City
  • Marlea O’Brien
    The University of Iowa Iowa City
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: J-TOMBLIN@UIOWA.EDU
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 1997
Prevalence of Specific Language Impairment in Kindergarten Children
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1997, Vol. 40, 1245-1260. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4006.1245
History: Received December 29, 1996 , Accepted April 8, 1997
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1997, Vol. 40, 1245-1260. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4006.1245
History: Received December 29, 1996; Accepted April 8, 1997

This epidemiologic study estimated the prevalence of specific language impairment (SLI) in monolingual English-speaking kindergarten children. From a stratified cluster sample in rural, urban, and suburban areas in the upper midwest, 7,218 children were screened. The language screening failure rate was 26.2%. Children who failed the screening and a similar number of controls were then administered a diagnostic battery (n=2,084) that provided for a diagnosis of SLI using common diagnostic standards. Results provided an estimated overall prevalence rate of 7.4%. The prevalence estimate for boys was 8% and for girls 6%. Variation in prevalence was found among children of different racial/cultural backgrounds; however, these background variables were found to be correlated with parental education, which was also associated with SLI. The parents of 29% of the children identified as SLI reported they had previously been informed that their child had a speech or language problem.

The prevalence estimates obtained fell within recent estimates for SLI, but demonstrated that this condition is more prevalent among females than has been previously reported. Also, the clinical identification of these children remains low among kindergarteners.

Acknowledgments
This study was supported by contract NIH-DC-19-90 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The conduct of this study was aided considerably by a valuable research team comprising the following: Chris Anderson, Kathleen Bailey, Jean Beisler, Lisa Ehlert, Connie Ferguson, Diane Highnam, Joni Mack, Chris McLaughlin, Jacqueline Nesvik, Julie Ann Sellen, Shirley Tiemeyer, Vickie Vandike, and Cathy Wignall.
We wish to thank Trudy Burns for her advice concerning research design and statistical analysis, and the parents and children who were participants in this study. We also would like to thank the following school districts and their staff for their willingness to allow us to conduct this work in their facilities: Bettendorf, Bondurant-Farrar, Carbon Cliff-Barstow, Cedar Falls, Colfax-Mingo, Dallas Center-Grimes, Davenport, Denver, Des Moines Independent, Dunkerton, East Moline, La Porte City, North Scott, Prairie, Reinbeck, Rock Island (IL), Wappsi Valley, Waterloo, and West Des Moines.
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