Stuttering is an interruption in the flow of speaking characterized by atypical rate, rhythm, and repetitions in sounds, syllables, words. And phrases. It is classified in the DSM IV TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, text revision)

Although stuttering may occur with almost any word, it is particularly common in front of words beginning with. B, D, K, P, or T. These efforts are often accompanied by simultaneous grimacing, blinking, or forceful movements of the head and neck.

Although it is not clear why, most people who stutter can speak without stuttering when they talk to themselves and when they sing or speak in unison with someone else. Some of the famous people who have suffered from this disorder are Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, and vice president Joseph Biden.

Developmental stuttering is common among children when they are learning to speak. It appears in 1 to 5% of young children, with a male to female ratio of 3-4:1. It has an insidious onset over several months, between the ages of 2 and 7; studies suggest that an interaction between genetic and environmental factors leads to stuttering in predisposed individuals. Spontaneous full remission occurs in approximately 60% of affected children, with another 20% experiencing a partial remission. It is much less common, with an acute onset after age 10 and the lack of both associated movements and the “cascade” of normally produced words following the stutter.

The main treatment of stuttering is speech therapy, which often is successful. Parental involvement and support groups are important.

Ana C Posada-Diaz, M.D.


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