SCIENCE-LANGUAGE

Paolo Gambi, Rinascimento poetico

SCIENCE-LANGUAGE
GENES BLAMED FOR CHILDREN WHO TALK LATE

WASHINGTON, OCT 23 (REUTERS) – GENES AND NOT A BAD ENVIRONMENT MAY BE MOST TO BLAME FOR CHILDREN WHO ARE LATE IN LEARNING TO SPEAK, RESEARCHERS SAID ON FRIDAY.
THEY SAID THEY FOUND AN ESPECIALLY STRONG CONNECTION BETWEEN GENES AND LANGUAGE IN CHILDREN WHO HAD NOT LEARNED TO TALK BY THE AGE OF TWO.
WRITING IN THE JOURNAL NATURE NEUROSCIENCE, THE TEAMS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE AND AT THE INSTITUTE OF PSYCHIATRY IN LONDON SAID THEY ALSO REAFFIRMED THAT DELAYED SPEECH IS MORE LIKELY TO AFFECT BOYS THAN GIRLS.
PHILIP DALE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON AND HIS BRITISH COLLEAGUES LOOKED AT 3,000 PAIRS OF TWINS IN ENGLAND AND WALES.
THEY FOUND THE TWINS, WHETHER FRATERNAL TWINS OR GENETICALLY IDENTICAL TWINS, SCORED ABOUT THE SAME IN LANGUAGE ABILITIES AT THE AGE OF TWO.
BUT THERE WAS A BIG DIFFERENCE IN THE WORST SPEAKERS — THOSE WHO SCORED IN THE LOWEST 5 PERCENT OF ABILITY.
THERE WAS AN 81 PERCENT CHANCE THAT AN IDENTICAL TWIN WOULD ALSO SCORE IN THE BOTTOM 5 PERCENT IF HIS OR HER TWIN WAS IN THAT GROUP.
BUT A FRATERNAL TWIN — WHO IS ONLY AS GENETICALLY SIMILAR TO HIS OR HER TWIN AS ANY OTHER BROTHER OR SISTER — WAS ONLY 42 PERCENT AS LIKELY TO SCORE LOW.
"THIS POINTS TO A GENETIC INFLUENCE SINCE IDENTICAL TWINS HAVE THE SAME GENETIC MAKEUP WHILE FRATERNAL TWINS ARE ONLY 50 PERCENT THE SAME GENETICALLY," DALE SAID IN A STATEMENT.
BUT HE STRESSED THAT PARENTS PLAY THE MOST IMPORTANT ROLE IN HELPING MOST CHILDREN TO LEARN TO SPEAK.
"FOR THE BROAD RANGE OF CHILDREN, ENVIRONMENT OR NURTURE APPEARS TO BE MORE IMPORTANT," HE SAID. "BUT WHAT HAPPENS TO CHILDREN AT THE LOW OR VERY SLOW END OF LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT IS STRIKINGLY DIFFERENT. WITH THESE CHILDREN, GENETICS IS IMPORTANT AND THAT’S WHY IT MAKES A WHOPPING DIFFERENCE TO WHAT KIND OF TWIN THEY ARE."
THERE ARE HUGE DIFFERENCES AMONG TWO-YEAR-OLDS IN JUST HOW MUCH THEY CAN SAY. SOME HAVE VOCABULARIES OF 100 WORDS, WHILE OTHERS SAY NOTHING.
BUT DALE SAID HAVING A LATE SPEAKER DOES NOT MEAN A CHILD IS FATED TO HAVE LANGUAGE PROBLEMS LATER.
"WE KNOW HALF OF THEM WON’T HAVE PROBLEMS AND WILL CATCH UP WITH THEIR PEERS," HE SAID.
23-10-1998

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