Speech and Language Delay | Causes & Risk Factors


What causes speech delay?

Speech delay occurs in up to 10 percent of children. The most common causes of speech delay include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Slow development
  • Mental retardation

Other causes include:

  • Psychosocial deprivation (the child doesn't spend enough time talking with adults)
  • Being a twin
  • Autism (a developmental disorder)
  • Elective mutism (the child just doesn't want to talk)
  • Cerebral palsy (a movement disorder caused by brain damage)

Why might living in a bilingual home affect my child's language and speech?

The brain has to work harder to interpret and use 2 languages, so it may take longer for children to start using either one or both of the languages they're learning. It's not unusual for a bilingual child to use just one language for a while.


Evaluation and Management of the Child with Speech Delay by AKC Leung, M.B.B.S. and C Pion Kao, M.D. (American Family Physician June 01, 1999, http://www.aafp.org/afp/990600ap/3121.html)

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 06/99