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Quick Statistics About Voice, Speech, Language

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Voice, Speech, Language, and Swallowing

  • Nearly 1 in 12 (7.7 percent) U.S. children ages 3-17 has had a disorder related to voice, speech, language, or swallowing in the past 12 months.1
  • Among children who have a voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorder, 34 percent of those ages 3-10 have multiple communication or swallowing disorders, while 25.4 percent of those ages 11-17 have multiple disorders.1 
  • Boys ages 3-17 are more likely than girls to have a voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorder (9.6 percent compared to 5.7 percent).1
  • The prevalence of voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorders is highest among children ages 3-6 (11.0 percent), compared to children ages 7-10 (9.3 percent), and children ages 11-17 (4.9 percent).1
  • Nearly one in 10, or 9.6 percent, of black children (ages 3-17) has a voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorder, compared to 7.8 percent of white children and 6.9 percent of Hispanic children.1
  • More than half (55.2 percent) of U.S. children ages 3-17 with a voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorder received intervention services in the past year.1 White children (ages 3-17) with a voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorder are more likely to have received intervention services in the past 12 months, compared to Hispanic and black children, at 60.1 percent, 47.3 percent, and 45.8 percent respectively.1
  • Boys (ages 3-17) with a voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorder are more likely than girls to receive intervention services, at 59.4 percent and 47.8 percent, respectively.1
  • Among children ages 3-17 who have a voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorder, those with speech or language problems, 67.6 percent and 66.8 percent respectively, are more likely to receive intervention services, compared to those who have a voice disorder (22.8 percent) or swallowing problems (12.7 percent).1

Voice

  • An estimated 17.9 million U.S. adults ages 18 or older, or 7.6%, report having had a problem with their voice in the past 12 months.3,4  Approximately 9.4 million (4.0%) adults report having a problem using their voice that lasted one week or longer during the last 12 months.2
  • 1.4 percent of U.S. children have a voice disorder that lasted for a week or longer during the past 12 months.1
  • Spasmodic dysphonia, a voice disorder caused by involuntary movements of one or more muscles of the larynx (voice box), can affect anyone. The first signs of this disorder are found most often in people ages 30-50. More women than men appear to be affected.5

Speech

  • 5 percent of U.S. children ages 3-17 have a speech disorder that lasted for a week or longer during the past 12 months.1
  • The prevalence of speech sound disorders (namely, articulation disorders or phonological disorders) in young children is 8 to 9 percent. By the first grade, roughly 5 percent of children have noticeable speech disorders, including stuttering, speech sound disorders, and dysarthria; the majority of these speech disorders have no known cause.6,7
  • More than three million Americans (about one percent) stutter. Stuttering can affect individuals of all ages, but occurs most frequently in young children between the ages of 2 and 6. Boys are two to three times more likely than girls to stutter. Although most children who stutter outgrow the condition while young, as many as one in four will continue to stutter for the rest of their lives, a condition known as persistent developmental stuttering.8,9

Language

  • 3.3 percent of U.S. children ages 3-17 have a language disorder that lasted for a week or longer during the past 12 months.1
  • Research suggests that the first 6 months of life are the most crucial to a child’s development of language skills. For a person to become fully competent in any language, exposure must begin as early as possible, preferably before school age.10,11
  • Anyone can acquire aphasia (a loss of the ability to use or understand language), but most people who have aphasia are in their middle to late years. Men and women are equally affected. Nearly 180,000 Americans acquire the disorder each year.12 About 1 million persons in the U.S. currently have aphasia.12

Swallowing

  • 0.9 percent of U.S. children ages 3-17 have a swallowing disorder that lasted for a week or longer during the past 12 months.1

Sources

  1. Black LI, Vahratian A, Hoffman HJ. Communication disorders and use of intervention services among children aged 3–17 years: United States, 2012. NCHS data brief, no 205. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2015.
  2. Hoffman HJ, Li C-M, Losonczy K, Chiu MS, Lucas JB, St. Louis KO. Voice, speech, and language disorders in the U.S. population: The 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).  Abstract No. 648. In Abstracts of the 47th Annual Meeting of the Society for Epidemiologic Research, June 24-27, 2014, Seattle, WA; p. 156.
  3. Bhattacharyya N. The prevalence of voice problems among adults in the United States.  Laryngoscope. 2014 Oct; 124(10): 2359–2362.
  4. Moris MA, Meier SK, Griffin JM, Branda ME, Phelan SM. Prevalence and etiologies of adult communication disabilities in the United States: Results of the 2012 National Health Interview Survey. Brief Report. Disabil Health J.  2016 Jan;9(1):140-4.doi:10.1016/j.dhjo.2015.07.004. Epub 2015 Jul 22.
  5. Schweinfurth JM, Billante M, Courey MS. Risk factors and demographics in patients with spasmodic dysphonia. Laryngoscope. 2002 Feb; 112(2): 220–223.
  6. Shriberg LD, Tomblin JB, McSweeny JL. Prevalence of speech delay in 6-year-old children and comorbidity with language impairment. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 1999; 42(6): 1461–1481.
  7. Law J, Boyle J, Harris F, Harkness A, Nye C. Prevalence and natural history of primary speech and language delay:  findings from a systematic review of the literature. Int J Lang Commun Disord.  2000 Apr-Jun; 35(2): 165–188.
  8. Yairi E, Ambrose N. Epidemiology of stuttering: 21st century advances. J Fluency Disord. 2013 Jun; 38(2): 66–87.
  9. Boyle CA, Boulet S, Schieve LA, Cohen RA, Blumberg SJ, Yeargin-Allsopp M, Visser S, Kogan MD. Trends in the prevalence of developmental disabilities in US children, 1997–2008. Pediatrics. 2011 Jun; 127(6): 1034–1042.
  10. Kuhl PK. Learning and representation in speech and language. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1994 Dec; 4(6): 812–822.
  11. Yeung HH, Werker JF. Learning words’ sounds before learning how words sound: 9-month-olds use distinct objects as cues to categorize speech information. Cognition. 2009 Nov; 113(2): 234–243.
  12.  National Aphasia Association. Aphasia FAQs. Accessed 5/18/2016.
Last Updated Date: 
May 19, 2016