Due to a lack of evidence, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) did not make a recommendation for or against screening for speech and delay disorder in all children 5 years or younger by primary health care professionals.
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has determined there is not enough evidence to make a recommendation, either for, or against, speech and delay disorder screenings in all children 5 years and younger that do not present any signs in the primary care setting.
In a July 25, 2023, draft recommendation statement, The USPSTF said that evidence on the benefits of screening all children in the designated age range is lacking and the benefits and harms could not be determined.
“Our recommendation is not a recommendation for or against screening, but rather a call for more research,” said Li Li, MD, PhD, MPH, chair of family medicine, University of Virginia School of Medicine, in the draft statement. “It is essential that the gaps in the evidence be addressed, particularly for those who are more likely to experience speech and language delays and disorders, such as Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American children, as well as children in households with low incomes.”
The USPSTF noted that the lack of a recommendation is for children with no signs of speech and language delays or disorders, and that health care professionals that are concerned about development in their patients, should evaluate these individuals and provide treatment if necessary.
While the USPSTF is calling for more evidence that could demonstrate the benefits of screenings, it is also calling for more research on the potential harms. Stigma, caregiver anxiety, labeling, overdiagnosis, and other potential emotional and social harms are examples given in the statement. Additional studies regarding academic performance outcomes, child and family wellbeing, and social and emotional health are also needed, according to the task force.
“Speech and language are critical parts of development, and delays and disorders can be challenging for children and their families,” said Tumaini Rucker Coker, MD, MBA, chief, Division of General Pediatrics, professor of pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle Children’s. “Caring for children with speech and language delays and disorders is incredibly important, but unfortunately, there is not enough evidence to tell us whether or not it is helpful to screen all children 5 years and younger in the primary care setting."
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issues draft recommendation statement on screening for speech and language delay and disorders in children. US Preventive Services Task Force. Press release. July 25, 2023. Accessed July 26, 2023. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/sites/default/files/file/supporting_documents/speech-language-delay-bulletin.pdf