Children's Language Skills Tied to Later Psychosocial Effects

Early receptive language skills associated with mental health, psychosocial adjustment in adults
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- Early receptive language skills have a significant association with adult mental health and psychosocial adjustment, according to a study published online June 29 in Pediatrics.

Ingrid Schoon, Ph.D., of the University of London, and colleagues evaluated 6,941 men and women from a nationally representative birth cohort study. Language skills were assessed at 5 years of age, and psychosocial outcomes and mental health were assessed at 34 years of age.

Compared to cohort members with normal language skills, the researchers found that cohort members with poor receptive language skills in early childhood experienced more disadvantaged socioeconomic circumstances as well as more behavior and psychosocial adjustment problems during the transition to adulthood. In addition, men and women at 34 years of age with poor early receptive language skills had lower levels of mental health compared to those with normal language skills. Early language skills maintained a significant and independent impact in predicting adult mental health after adjustment for family history and social adaptation experiences.

"The psychosocial consequences of early receptive language problems are pervasive and continue into adult life," the authors write. "The needs of children with early language problems are complex, and increased awareness should be paid to the persisting social and psychological difficulties that these children may go on to experience."

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