Speech delay in your child can be a great source of stress and anxiety.
A child’s brain is developing and maturing at a rapid pace during the first 3 years of their life. It is therefore a very important time for speech and language development. Maximising exposure to sounds and sights as well as speech and language is key in making the most of this important window as this is a time where their brain is best able to absorb language.
Every child differs in how they develop speech and language skills. Some will be quicker or slower than others. There are steps in this development or ‘milestones’ we are aiming for which are used to track your child’s progress.
Delayed speech and language is essentially when your child isn’t meeting those milestones for their age.
Have a good support team!
It is important to speak to a medical professional if you are worried about your child’s development in this area. They will typically run through some checks such as a hearing test to make sure a loss of hearing isn’t responsible for the delay.
They may also want to run some blood tests to check for any nutritional deficiencies.
They may also organise for your child to work with a speech therapist if deemed appropriate.
How can we at The Paediatric Naturopath help with speech delay?
When working with a naturopath or clinical nutritionist, there a few things we delve into to rule out as contributing to your child’s delayed speech.
A thorough case-taking and assessment of a child’s health from a holistic perspective (that is, the full picture) will point us in the direction of potential issues
If it is in fact an issue with hearing and the cause is due to chronic ear infections or glue ear, then we often start at tackling food sensitivities known for causing excess mucus and inflammation in the ear, nose and throat whilst supporting the immune system.
Sometimes we see increased heavy metal load in children with speech delay. This will compromise their brain function. We determine if this is an issue by doing a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis. Metals that we sometimes see in our speech delayed clients include aluminium, lead and mercury.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are chemicals that have been linked to speech delay in children. PCBs are known to interfere with neurological development and can affect speech and language skills. To assess PCB exposure, we may conduct blood or urine tests. If elevated levels are found, we can provide targeted interventions to reduce the impact of PCBs on speech development.
Especially if your child is a fussy eater, or has some underlying gut issues, they could be lacking in important nutrients to support optimal brain function in terms of structure, nerve communication, and energy. Chronic deficiencies in nutrients such as iron and B12 can lead to delays.
Your child could be reacting to certain foods in their diet that can contribute to gut inflammation (gut health is closely connected to brain health via the gut-brain axis). Children with a one year history of food allergy are at higher risk of speech disorders.
These are single nucleotide polymorphisms. Some will make it harder for you child to have optimal brain function and speech development (particularly with regards to levels of folate in the brain). Smart supplementation of the nutrients that your individual child needs to support their unique genetics can lead to great improvements in speech for your child.
Children living with undiagnosed with a thyroid disorder such as a sluggish thyroid, or hyperthyroidism can have their speech affected. If there is a family history of thyroid issues, this is definitely worth investigating.
If you are worried with your child not meeting their milestones for speech and language, get in touch today to see how we can be a part of your support team. If you are going to speech therapy and not getting the improvements you hoped for, it is very worthwhile to dig a bit deeper.