Family history interview of a broad phenotype in specific language impairment and matched controls

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Abstract

The aim was to study a broader phenotype of language-related diagnoses and problems in three generations of relatives of children with specific language impairment (SLI). Our study is based on a family history interview of the parents of 59 children with SLI and of 100 matched control children, exploring the prevalence of problems related to language, reading, attention, school achievement and social communication as well as diagnoses such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, Asperger syndrome, dyslexia, mental retardation, cleft palate and stuttering. The results show a spectrum of language-related problems in families of SLI children. In all three generations of SLI relatives, we found significantly higher prevalence rates of language, literacy and social communication problems. The risk of one or both parents having language-related diagnoses or problems was approximately six times higher for the children with SLI (85%) than for the control children (13%) (odds ratio = 37.2). We did not find a significantly higher prevalence of the diagnoses ADHD, autism or Asperger syndrome in the relatives of the children with SLI. However, significantly more parents of the children with SLI had problems with attention/hyperactivity when compared with the parents of controls. Our findings suggest common underlying mechanisms for problems with language, literacy and social communication, and possibly also for attention/hyperactivity symptoms.

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