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Prematurity And Language Development

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What are the effects of prematurity on language development?
Nearly half a million babies are born prematurely in the united states each year. With the increase of complex technology and advances in neonatal intensive care, the amount of premature babies who survive the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has greatly increased. Although these children are surviving, there is now a greater number of children with deficits and/or delays in multiple areas, including language development. With that said, it has been found that prematurity often leads to increased risk of language disorders (Smith, DeThorne, Logan, Channell, & Petrill, 2014).
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With the knowledge on prematurity and how it impacts language, Speech-Language-Pathologists
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It is found that one out of every ten babies is born preterm! With these advances in technology that were previously mentioned, there are numerous babies surviving who were born as early as twenty-three weeks gestation! Most of these children are now at a greater risk for serious complications including physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, and severe visual and/or hearing loss (Franken & Weisglas-Kuperus, 2012). Although prematurity does lead to many serious deficits, this research is focused on the “complication” of language disorders. Language disorders are impairments in comprehension and/or use of a spoken, written, and/or other symbol systems (“Language In Brief,” n.d.). Language disorders may affect any or all of the language domains. The form of language may be affected including phonology, morphology, and syntax. The content, which consists of semantics, could be impaired as well. The use, or pragmatics, of language in communication can also be affected by language disorders. Finally, a combination of two or three of these areas can be…show more content…
Semantics can be defined as “the meaning of words and combinations of words in a language.” If a child has a language disorder impacting their semantic skills, they may have difficulty with listening, speaking, writing, and reading vocabulary (“Language In Brief,” n.d.). In the article Impact of Prematurity on Language Skills at School Age, the following analyses were used to assess the children’s skills in the domain of semantics. Number of total words (NTW), which is a measure of volubility and verbal proficiency (DeThorne, Johnson, & Loeb, 2005), is a count of each word used. Number of different words (NDW), which suggests the size of vocabulary and variety of linguistics (Watkins, Kelly, Harbers, & Hollis, 1995), is a tally of the various root words used. These tests separate the differences between typical language development and those with impaired language development (Smith et al., 2014). Word frequency analyses assessments were also given to the children to assess semantic skills. The likelihood that a child will use a certain word is determined by how often that word appears in our spoken language. Use of these less frequent words adds sophistication to a child’s language. For children with subtle language impairments, it is more difficult to find and apply these words that appear less frequently in spoken English (Smith et al., 2014). Vocabulary acquisition
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