The Practicing Parent: Stuttering Stress

Stuttering is a speech disorder that could cause embarrassment, especially for a child. But Practicing Parents, a new Australian study finds preschoolers who stutter do just fine emotionally and socially.

Cleveland Clinic Psychologist Kate Eshleman says stuttering can be typical as a child is developing speech.

"For many kids it may go away, but even for those that it does not, this study shows that those kids are not at any risk or disadvantage for more social, emotional or behavioral problems," Eshleman said.

Researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute studied more than 1,600 4-year-olds who stutter. They found higher rates of stuttering occurred in boys, twins and children whose mothers were college-educated. But, they were surprised to discover that stuttering in the preschool years was associated with better language development and non-verbal skills with no identifiable effect on the child's mental health or temperament at age 4.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the current best practice recommends waiting 12 months before beginning treatment, but researchers think the "watchful waiting" period could be lengthened.

Eshleman says if you're the parent of a child who stutters, don't hesitate to bring it up to their pediatrician, but also don't worry.

Complete findings for this study are in the journal "Pediatrics."