Childhood receptive language skill and adult mental health

January 01, 0001

Childhood receptive language skill and adult mental health

The aim of this study by British researchers was to examine the relationship between receptive language skills in childhood to psychosocial outcomes as adults. The study included 6941 participants in a nationally representative Birth Cohort Study. Assessment of language skills were made first at age 5. The enrollees were studied again at age 34 to assess psychosocial outcomes and levels of adult mental health. Potential moderating factors that were assessed included the family environment, individual adjustment, and social adaptation in the transition to adolescence.

The researchers found: "In early childhood, cohort members with poor receptive language experienced more disadvantaged socioeconomic circumstances than cohort members with normal language skills and showed more behavior and psychosocial adjustment problems in the transition to adulthood. At age 34, cohort members with poor early language skills reported lower levels of mental health than cohort members with normal language. After adjustment for family background and experiences of social adaptation, early language skills maintained a significant and independent impact in predicting adult mental health."

The researchers concluded: "Early receptive language skills are significantly associated with adult mental health as well as psychosocial adjustment during early childhood and in later life. The needs of children with language problems are complex and call for early and continuing provision of educational support and services."

This study suggest a link between early childhood receptive language skills and adult mental health, although causality and the benefits of interventions need to be elucidated

For the full abstract, click here.

Pediatrics 126(1):e73-e80, July 2010
© 2010 American Academy of Pediatrics
Children's Language Ability and Psychosocial Development: A 29-Year Follow-up Study. Ingrid Schoon, Samantha Parsons, Robert Rush, James Law.

Category: A. General/Unspecified. Keywords: language development, receptive language skills, childhood, mental health, psychosocial adjustment, longitudinal follow-up study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Paul Schaefer, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 6 August 2010

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