Authors: Abraham Binu, Raj Sunil, Stephenson Baburaj, Mohandas MK
Background: Speech and language is the most important skill for the child’s development and scholastic performance. Awareness of the delay is important in the programs for early identification. Purpose: to assess the prevalence of speech and language delay in children from age group 0 to six years of age. Methodology: The speech and language development of children coming in the well baby clinic and daily pediatric clinic of age group from birth to 6 years were evaluated using Language Evaluation Scale Trivandrum (LEST). The prevalence of speech and language delay in each age group was calculated and also analyzed in the sociodemograhic profile. Results: A total of 102 children were studied in which 13.7% had language delay. 18% had questionable language delay and 15.7% had suspect language delay. Though among language delay mixed type was more, children had more difficulty in doing expressive items. Language delay was also found to be more prevalent in males, single child, first born child and children of working mothers. Parental age, education or socioeconomic status was not found to be related to language delay. Conclusion: The 13.7% prevalence of language delay in the children indicates the need of early identification and for it a simple screening tool like LEST is a must during the routine evaluation of young children in pediatric clinics. Health care givers and parents should ensure that babies grow up in a language rich, nurturing and stimulating environment right from birth onwards.
Key words: LEST, Language delay, Speech delay, First born child