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Levy-Rueff M.,Service de Pedopsychiatrie | Bourgeois M.,Hopital Necker Enfants Malades | Assous A.,Service de Psychiatrie de lEnfant et de lAdolescent | Beauquier-Maccota B.,Service de Psychiatrie de lEnfant et de lAdolescent | And 14 more authors.
Encephale | Year: 2012

Background: Specific language impairment (SLI) is a primary developmental disorder in which language is significantly more impaired than other developmental domains. Abnormal electroencephalographic recordings without clinical seizures are often observed. The aim of this retrospective study was to characterize the frequency of these abnormalities, to describe them and to analyze their association with anamnestic, clinical, paraclinical and evolution characteristics. Methods: The cases of 35 children with a diagnosis of SLI, who also underwent electroencephalography and MRI, were systematically reviewed retrospectively. Results: In this population, aged between 4 and 7 years, 49% (n = 17) of patients exhibited a specific expressive language disorder and 51% (n = 18) a specific receptive disorder. Forty-nine percent of the children featured abnormal electroencephalography results. Abnormalities were essentially localized on the left side of the brain and in two specific regions: the temporo-occipital (60%) and the frontorolandic (30%) regions. The groups with and without abnormalities were compared statistically with each other in terms of clinical, paraclinical and evolution characteristics. Evolution data were available for 24 patients through a telephone interview and for nine patients through a new complete language evaluation. The comparison of the two groups showed significant differences in terms of severity of the phonological disorder, a higher number of delayed acquisition of walking and cleanliness and a higher range of non specific psychomotor difficulties. Discussion: A large proportion of children suffering from SLI present abnormal electroencephalography recordings with no clinical seizures. This rate is much higher than in the general population and the abnormalities are essentially localized on the left side of the brain in regions known for their specific role in language development. These abnormalities are more frequent in children with a severe phonological disorder, suggesting that they may share common pathophysiological features with SLI. Conclusion: The presence of EEG abnormalities in a large group of patients suffering from SLI associated with minor neurological abnormalities suggests a possible theoretical neurodevelopmental model. Minor neurodevelopmental abnormalities, genetically transmitted or acquired during the pre- or perinatal period, may create vulnerability towards SLI. This vulnerability, in conjunction with environmental influences such as family environment, linguistic stimuli, exposure to multiple languages, or transitory hearing loss, might take the form of SLI. This hypothesis underlines the importance of prevention and early detection of SLI when identifying vulnerable subjects. Monitoring the family early through parental guidance and early school support would facilitate the acquisition of language. © 2011 LEncéphale, Paris.

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