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Original Research

Risks associated with communication delays in infants from underserved South African communities

Jeannie van der Linde, De Wet Swanepoel, Frances P. Glascoe, E.M. Louw, Jannie F.M. Hugo, Bart Vinck

African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine; Vol 7, No 1 (2015), 7 pages. doi: 10.4102/phcfm.v7i1.841

Submitted: 03 March 2015
Published:  08 September 2015


Background: For optimal development young children need warm, responsive, enriched and communicative environments for learning social, language, and other skills. Infants and toddlers exposed to psychosocial risk lack enriched environments and may present with communication delays.

Aim: To investigate the relationship between psychosocial risks and communication delays in infants from underserved communities in South Africa.

Setting: Primary healthcare facilities in Tshwane district, South Africa.

Methods: A parent interview and Rossetti Infant Toddler Language Scales were used to collect data from caregivers of 201 infants aged 6–12 months, selected through convenience sampling. Associations between communication delays and risks were determined (Chi-square and Fisher’s exact tests). A log-linear model analysis was used to model the simultaneous effect of significant risks on the probability of having communication delays.

Results: Communication delays were present in 13% of infants. Infants with two or more siblings, born from mothers aged 18–29 years who own their house, had a 39% chance of presenting with communication delays.

Conclusion: Developmental screening and early intervention is important in primary healthcare contexts in South Africa, as a clear relationship has been established between three risk factors and communication delays in infants.

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Author affiliations

Jeannie van der Linde, Department of Speech- Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
De Wet Swanepoel, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa, Ear Sciences Centre, School of Surgery, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, and Ear Science Institute Australia, Subiaco, Australia
Frances P. Glascoe, Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University, United States
E.M. Louw, Department of Statistics, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Jannie F.M. Hugo, Department of Family Medicine, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Bart Vinck, Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria South Africa and Department of Speech- Language Pathology and Audiology, Ghent University, Belgium



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ISSN: 2071-2928 (print) | ISSN: 2071-2936 (online)

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