Biopsychosocial risk factors and language delays in a sample of preschool children

Janine Bitetti Salimbene, Fordham University


This purpose of this study was to examine biological and psychosocial risk factors that are associated with language delays in a sample of young children. This investigation involved a review of records of children between the ages of 17 months and 3 years of age (N = 184) who were evaluated for language delays. The criterion variables were language performance on the Preschool Language Scale, Third Edition and the VABS Communication Domain. The predictor variables were nine biological variables (perinatal infections, low birthweight, quality of breathing, exposure to ototoxic drugs, deviations in feeding and sucking, number of birth defects, blood exchange for hyperbilirubinemia, family history of hearing loss, and family history of speech and language disorders) and three psychosocial variables (parenting stress, social support, and maternal age). Results of a hierarchical multiple regression analysis indicated that both biological and psychosocial variables were significant predictors of scores on the PLS-3. Additionally, the set of psychosocial variables explained a significant amount of additional variance in the PLS-3 scores after accounting for the biological variables. However, not all of these variables made significant, independent contributions. Of the biological variables, only birthweight and exposure to ototoxic drugs were significant predictors. Of the psychosocial variables, only parenting stress was found to make a significant, independent contribution to the PLS-3. There were no significant findings with the VABS Communication as the criterion variable. Results of a correlational analysis indicated that a child who presented with a greater number or risk factors earned lower scores on the PLS-3. No relationship was found between the number of risk factors and VABS Communication scores. Results of a hierarchical multiple regression analysis indicated that the number of biological risk factors and the number of psychosocial risk did not predict scores on the PLS-3 and the VABS Communication. Overall the results of the study suggest that some individual risk factors predict scores on a test of language development but cumulative risk was not a predictor for this sample of young children.

Subject Area

Early childhood education|Educational psychology|Developmental psychology|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Salimbene, Janine Bitetti, "Biopsychosocial risk factors and language delays in a sample of preschool children" (2009). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3361464.