Parental Smoking and Development of Specific Language Impairment
in preschool and primary school children: preliminary findings

Specific language impairment-(SLI) is a disorder of language that represents a group of children within the population of language impaired persons, that can not be attributed to any clearly identifiable cause. It should however be mentioned that language impairments associated with SLI are not limited to children, but may be observed in adolescents and even adults. Although SLI has not been clearly defined in the existing literature, we can nevertheless isolate certain language deficits common in children with SLI. These are impairments in expression and comprehension of language. It should also be stated that the presence of age appropriate concepts, such as understanding the use and function of common objects remains. The literature also specifies that the language difficulties seen in SLI are not related to mental retardation, hearing impairment or pervasive developmental disorders. Despite the unknown etiology, literature has further indicated that there are certain pathogenic environmental factors such as parental smoking both prenatal and postnatal that may predispose children to develop SLI. The aim of this study was to investigate whether a relationship exists between parental smoking and the development of SLI. Using strict selection criteria, data on children with SLI and normal controls (children with normal language development) were collected and compared. In addition a parental questionnaire was administered concerning parental smoking habits. Preliminary findings supported by data obtained by the TOLD -P-2 language subscales indicated that parental smoking might be associated with the development of SLI. These preliminary findings seem to support existing literature. If similar findings are replicated by further well-controlled studies this may have implications for the prevention of SLI development.

Key words: Parental Smoking, Specific Language impairment, Prevention.