In this review, the authors aimed to update the evidence on screening and treating children for speech and language since the 2006 US Preventive Services Task Force systematic review. In 23 studies evaluating the accuracy of screening tools, sensitivity ranged between 50% and 94%, and specificity ranged between 45% and 96%. Twelve treatment studies improved various outcomes in language, articulation, and stuttering; little evidence emerged for interventions improving other outcomes or for adverse effects of treatment. Risk factors associated with speech and language delay were male gender, family history, and low parental education. A limitation of this review is the lack of well-designed, well-conducted studies addressing whether screening for speech and language delay or disorders improves outcomes. Several screening tools can accurately identify children for diagnostic evaluations and interventions, but evidence is inadequate regarding applicability in primary care physician settings. Some treatments for young children identified with speech and language delays and disorders may be effective.
Wallace, Ina F., Berkman, Nancy D., Watson, Linda R., Coyne-Beasley, Tamera, Wood, Chafles To., Cullen, Katherine, and Lohr, Kathleen N. Screening for Speech and Language Delay in Children 5 Years Old and Younger: A Systematic Review. Pediatrics. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-3889