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HealthInfo Canterbury

Does my child stutter?

Stuttering, or stammering, is an involuntary interruption to the flow of talking. It can happen in different ways, such as:

We don't know exactly what causes stuttering, but we think it is caused by difficulties in the part of the brain that produces speech. It may also be partly genetic, as stuttering often runs in families. Around 5 to 10% of preschool children will stutter.

Does my child have a stutter?

Stuttering usually develops when children are aged between 2 and 4. But every child goes through a period of what is called "normal non-fluency" that can be mistaken for stuttering.

In normal non-fluency, children who are developing language and starting to combine words into short sentences repeat whole words, for example "and and..." or "because because..." While this can be worrying, it is not stuttering.

Generally, if there is a family history of stuttering, or if the non-fluency continues for more than three months, seek the advice of a speech-language therapist.

Tests and diagnosis

Only a qualified speech-language therapist or paediatrician can diagnose stuttering. There is no simple test your doctor can use.

On the next page: Living with a child who stutters

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2016.

Page reference: 129666

Review key: HISCD-79694