One in four kids who acquire speech powers late on continue to struggle with language problems by the age of seven, a new study has said.
The world's largest study titled 'Looking at Language' examined the speech development of 1766 children in Western Australia from infancy to seven years of age, with particular focus on environmental, neuro-developmental and genetic risk factors.
However, the study showed mixed results for parents concerned about their toddler's language development.
"While a late start doesn't necessarily predict on-going language problems, most school aged children with impaired language were late talkers," said Professor Mabel Rice, chief investigator as saying.
"That's why it's essential that late talkers are professionally evaluated by a speech pathologist and have their hearing checked. We know that early intervention can greatly assist with a child's language development," Rice added.
Associate Professor Kate Taylor, co-chief Investigator said that the next test for researchers was to find ways to identify which children were likely to outgrow the problem so that interventions could be targeted at those in need.
"Our study has previously shown that 13 pc of two year olds are late talkers and that boys are three times as likely to have a delay at that age," said Taylor.
"What we now can see from our data is that by seven years of age, 80 pc of late talkers have caught up, and that boys are at no greater risk than girls. However, one in five late talkers was below age expectations for language at school-age," she added.
The study also revealed that by 24 months, children will usually have a vocabulary of around 50 words and have begun combining those words in two or three word sentences.
The study is published in the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research.