Context: Children with late emerging language difficulties start off by demonstrating typical language growth but fall behind their peers later in
development. This means that they are not identified through early language screening measures but start their formal school years with language weaknesses, putting them at an
immediate disadvantage. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of late emerging language difficulties in children between 3 and 5 years and identify associated risk factors.
Method: In total, 8,266 participants from the Growing up in Ireland (GUI) study were included. Expressive vocabulary was measured at 3 and 5 years using the naming subtest of the British
Abilities Scales. Fourteen risk factors were identified from the literature and the information relating to these was gathered through questionnaires with the child’s primary caregiver.
Multinomial logistic regression was used to determine which risk factors were associated with late emerging language difficulties. Results: Overall, 5% of children presented with late emerging language difficulties. This profile was
associated with five risk factors, learning English as additional language, low parent education levels, limited number of children’s books in the home, low frequency of book reading and low frequency of home learning activities.
Conclusions: The study supports the need for early detection and intervention for children with late emerging language difficulties. Speech and Language Therapists should work collaboratively
with other health and education professionals to monitor language abilities over time and provide
targeted interventions guided by the identified risk factors