Language outcomes of children with cerebral palsy aged 5 years and 6 years: a population-based study
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Aim: To examine the frequency, range, and features of language impairment in a community sample of children with cerebral palsy (CP) aged 5 to 6 years. Method: Children with CP born between 2005 and 2007 were identified through the Victorian Cerebral Palsy Register. Eighty-four participants were recruited, representing 48% of the contacted families. The recruited sample was representative of non-participants. Participants completed standardized measures of receptive and expressive language, and non-verbal cognition. Results: Language impairment was identified in 61% (51/84) of participants. Twenty-four per cent (20/84) were non-verbal. Co-occurring receptive and expressive language impairment was common (37/84, 44%). Isolated receptive (6/84, 7%) and expressive (4/84, 5%) impairments occurred relatively infrequently. At a group level, verbal and non-verbal participants demonstrated deficits across language subdomains (i.e. semantics, syntax, morphology), rather than in single domains. Cognitive impairment and Gross Motor Function Classification System levels IV and V were associated with higher rates of language impairment (odds ratio [OR] 15.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.2–71.8 and OR 8.5, 95% CI 1.8–40.3 respectively). Only cognition was independently associated with language impairment when both of these factors were considered within a multivariable model. Interpretation: Language impairment was common in 5-year-old and 6-year-old children with CP, affecting three out of five children. Participants were impaired across linguistic subdomains indicating a generalized language deficit. Findings suggest most children would benefit from a clinical language assessment. To target services effectively, subgroups of individuals with CP at greatest risk for language impairment need to be identified.
Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology
Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified