The epidemiology of stuttering: The need for reliable estimates of prevalence and anxiety levels over the lifespan

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Journal Article
International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 2004, 7 (1), pp. 41 - 46
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Few studies have investigated the natural history or epidemiology of stuttering over the entire lifespan. The natural history of a disease involves the study of aspects of a disease that can enhance our understanding of its nature. Important aspects of the natural history of stuttering include factors such as its aetiology, its prevalence (that is, how it is distributed in society and how frequent it is at any one time), the incidence (or the risk) of ever developing the disease, the population who is at risk, and the progression of the disease. This paper provides detail on the epidemiology of stuttering, providing a summary of recent studies that have investigated prevalence, with emphasis on prevalence over the entire lifespan. Prior epidemiological studies in children have led to an established belief in the scientific community that the prevalence of stuttering is about 1%. However, this figure is potentially misleading as a recent study completed by the authors found a much higher prevalence rate in young male children (2%) and a lower prevalence in young female children (0.8%), while substantially lower prevalence rates were found in adolescent males and females (0.8% and 0.2% respectively). In terms of the progression of anxiety in those who stutter, a trend has been found for persons who stutter to have higher levels of trait anxiety and these anxiety levels have been found to increase with age. Implications of these results are discussed. © 2005 Informa UK Ltd All rights reserved.
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