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Early Life Complications and SLI (Whitehouse et al., 2014)

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posted on 2022-01-25, 22:38 authored by Andrew J. O. Whitehouse, W. M. R. Shelton, Caleb Ing, John P. Newnham
Purpose: Although genetic factors are known to play a causal role in specific language impairment (SLI), environmental factors may also be important. This study examined whether there are prenatal, perinatal, and neonatal factors that are associated with childhood SLI.
Method: Participants were members of the Raine Study, a prospective cohort investigation of pregnant women and their offspring. Parent report indicated that 26 children had received a clinical diagnosis of SLI. Data from antenatal and birth medical records were compared between the children with SLI and typically developing comparison children (N = 1,799).
Results: There were no statistically significant differences between the SLI and comparison groups in the individual prenatal, perinatal, and neonatal factors examined. Aggregate risk scores were calculated for each period on the basis of factors known to be associated with neurodevelopmental disorder. There were no group differences in aggregate risk scores in the prenatal and perinatal periods. However, significantly more children in the SLI group (50%) compared with the comparison group (27.6%) experienced 2 or more risk factors during the neonatal period.
Conclusion: The vast majority of prenatal, perinatal, and neonatal complications do not play a clear causal role in childhood SLI. However, poor neonatal health may signify increased risk for SLI.


The authors would like to acknowledge the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for its long-term contribution to funding the study over the last 20 years. Core Management of the Raine Study has been funded by the University of Western Australia (UWA); Curtin University; the UWA Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences; the Raine Medical Research Foundation; the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research; and the Women and Infants Research Foundation. Andrew J. O. Whitehouse is funded by a Career Development Fellowship from the NHMRC (No. 1004065). This study was partly funded by NHMRC Project Grant No. 1003424.


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