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Brain activity abnormal in children with delayed speech

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"The overall ramifications of our early research augment the accepted importance of early intervention for children with language disorders," Dr. Altman explained. "With fMRI, radiologists may be able to help diagnose, guide and monitor treatment of children with these complex disorders." According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), an estimated 2 percent of children have a condition that may cause speech delay, including emotional or behavioral disabilities, birth complications, cleft lip or palate, developmental disabilities, hearing loss or lack of environmental stimulation.

Dr. Altman said the next step is to expand the study and develop a reliable test to diagnose language delay. He emphasized the importance of early identification of children with speech-delayed brain activation patterns, so that interventions can be started early, when they are most effective.

"A valid test identifying language delay would be valuable to both the practitioner and the child," Dr. Altman said. "Alternatively, after the child goes through speech therapy or another intervention, we can re-scan to see if the brain appears more normal."


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Contact: Maureen Morley
mmorley@rsna.org
630-590-7754
Radiological Society of North America
25-Nov-2003


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