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Sex Differences in Childhood Stuttering and Coexisting Developmental Disorders

Abstract

Stuttering and other developmental disorders are known to affect more male than female children. The present study compared: (1) stuttering prevalence in males and females at discrete ages and (2) prevalence of coexisting developmental disorders in male and female children who stutter (CWS). Data were obtained from the National Health Interview Survey (from 2010 to 2015). The sample comprised 62,450 total children, ages 3 to 17 years. Children in the current sample were those identified by their caregivers as having stuttered in the past 12 months. Rate of stuttering and data on five concomitant disorders (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder—ADHD; autism spectrum disorder; intellectual disability; learning disability; and seizures) were compared between male and female CWS and across three age categories: 3–5, 6–10, and 11–17 years. There were 1231 CWS, 852 males and 379 females, in the sample. Overall prevalence rates were 1.3%, 95% [CI 1.0, 1.6] for females, and 2.6%, 95% [CI 2.1, 3.2] for males, where prevalence rates decreased as age increased. For the total sample, male-to-female ratio was 2.0:1, 95% [CI 1.9, 2.5]. For coexisting developmental disorders, male CWS were at greater odds of having ADHD (OR = 2.32, 95% CI [1.62, 3.31]) and at lower odds than females of experiencing seizures (OR = .370, 95% [CI .214, .638]). Prevalence data at discrete ages revealed a different course of stuttering in early childhood for female and male children. Implications of sex differences, on the presence of ADHD and seizures/epilepsy among CWS, are discussed.

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Sources of data used in the current study have been made available in the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Patrick M. Briley.

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Briley, P.M., Merlo, S. & Ellis, C. Sex Differences in Childhood Stuttering and Coexisting Developmental Disorders. J Dev Phys Disabil (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10882-021-09811-y

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Keyword

  • Stuttering
  • Sex
  • Prevalence
  • ADHD
  • Seizures