Background: Speech-language disorders of children have associated symptoms such as effects on literacy, social skills, academic and professional life. Investigation of the prevalence of these disorders would help programming for management of the disorders and prevention of the associated symptoms. There is a lack of data on the prevalence of children’s speech-language disorders in Shiraz and studying such issue is necessary for early identification, early intervention, and prevention of associated symptoms. This study was performed during the years 2012-2016 in Shiraz, Iran. The aims of the study were 1) to estimate the prevalence of speech-language disorders in 4-to-6 year old children in Shiraz, and 2) to determine the relationship of these disorders to gender and age.
Methods: 1588 normal monolingual children (761 girls and 827 boys) of average socioeconomic status, aged 4-to 6 years participated in this cross-sectional study. The tasks and scoring were adapted from the Townsvill District Screening which included collecting language samples through picture description. Chi-square was used to estimate the results.
Results: 53 percent of the subjects had at least one of the assessed disorders. Specifically, the rates for different disorders were articulation disorders: 40 percent; fluency disorders: 13 percent; voice disorders: 3.3 percent; language comprehension disorders: 2.2 percent; and language expression disorders: 16.2 percent. Boys had higher rates of disorders than girls. Articulation and comprehension disorders were significantly higher in the younger age group, suggesting a decrease in these disorders with increasing age.
Conclusion: The results of this study generally correlate with those of previous studies. The high prevalence of speech-language disorders in Shiraz indicate the need to increase public awareness, intervention efforts, and further investigations on the matter.