Persistent speech sound disorder at age 8: prevalence, characteristics and predictors from a longitudinal cohort study

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Prevalence and predictors of persistent speech sound disorder at eight-years-old: Findings from a population cohort study

Yvonne Wren PhD, Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit, North Bristol NHS Trust, Bristol, BS16 1LE, UK

Tel: +44 117 3406529 Fax: +44 117 9701119


Laura L. Miller MSc, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Oakfield House, Oakfield Grove, Bristol, BS8 2BN (
Tim J Peters PhD, School of Clinical Sciences, University of Bristol, 69 St Michael’s Hill, Bristol BS2 8DZ (
Alan Emond MD, Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Oakfield House, Oakfield Grove, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 2BN (
Sue Roulstone PhD, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences University of the West of England, Bristol. (

Purpose: To determine prevalence and predictors of persistent speech sound disorder (SSD) in children aged 8.

Method: Data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) were used. Children were classified as having persistent SSD based on Percentage of Consonants Correct measures from connected speech samples. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to identify predictors.

Results: The estimated prevalence of persistent SSD was 3.6%. Children with persistent SSD were more likely to be male and from families who were not home-owners. Early childhood predictors identified as important were: weak sucking at 4 weeks; not often combining words at 24 months; limited use of word morphology at 38 months; and being unintelligible to strangers at age 38 months. School-age predictors identified as important were: maternal report of difficulty pronouncing certain sounds and hearing impairment at 7 years; tympanostomy tube insertion at any age up to 8 years; and a history of suspected coordination problems. The contribution of these findings to our understanding of risk factors for persistent SSD and the nature of the condition is considered.

Conclusion: Variables identified as predictive of persistent SSD suggest that factors across motor, cognitive and linguistic processes may place a child at risk.
Keywords: Persistent, speech sound disorder, child, epidemiology, prevalence, speech, ALSPAC

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