Khadija Yahya Al-Fadhli, Nada A Rahman Al-Bunaian
Abstract: Introduction and aim The development of language skills and communication is one of the most important tasks of early childhood. It is key to early learning and a building block of social skills. This study was designed to measure the prevalence of language delay and to assess the social factors impacting the prevalence of language delay among preschool-age children in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Method A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted from November 2016 to March 2017, a total of 1235 children aged from 3 to 5 years were involved. This study collected data through a self-administered questionnaire completed by parents, containing 2 parts Part 1Arabic-Ages and Stages Questionnaire, third edition (A-ASQ), to assess the prevalence of language delay, and Part 2Sociodemographic factors, social factors, and social interaction factors. Results The overall prevalence of language delay was 24.5 percent. Language delay was more common in 3-year-old children (p<0.001), children of male sex (p<0.001), and children with a family history of language delay (p=0.001). There were statistically significant relations between language delay and the time of less than 2-houers mothers spent with children (p=0.008), time children spent playing alone or with electronic devices (p=0.011), and time children spent watching TV (with the effect appearing at more than 2 hours per day, p=0.001). Conclusion Language delay among preschool-age children has a high prevalence in the Eastern Province. Language development is a useful indicator of a childs overall development, including cognitive development, and language delay can negatively affect a childs self-esteem, school achievement, and future career. These results thus justify the need for prevention, early detection, and treatment.
Keywords: Language delay, social factors affecting language acquisition, screen media effects, preschool children