Screening for language delay in the United Arab Emirates

Valsamma Eapen, T. Zoubeidi, Feisal Yunis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Developmental language delay (DLD) is frequent among two- and three-year-olds but little is known about this condition in the Arabian Peninsula. This paper forms part of a multipurpose community psychiatric survey conducted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The findings regarding the prevalence and psychosocial correlates of DLD are reported here. Methods. A total of 694 children, representative of the UAE 3-year-old population were screened using the Denver Developmental Screening Test (DDST) and the language screening procedure as used by Westerlund and Sundelin. Results. Of the 694 children screened for DLD at 3 years of age, 69 children (9.9%; CI 7.8-12.4) were found to have delays in the language sector of DDST. A total of 45 (6.5%; CI 4.3-8.7) were identified as having general language disability, both in comprehension and expression as per the language screening procedure. Language delay was found to be associated with rural living, mother being from a different nationality, non-involvement of domestic help in child care, family history of language delay, obstetric and perinatal problems and presence of behavioural problems in the child. Using stepwise multiple logistic regression analysis, two factors emerged as important with regard to general language delay, which were previous non-UAE nationality of the mother and total monthly income of the family. Conclusion. The pattern and correlates of DLD found in this survey are in line with those reported by other surveys, but some unique socio-cultural risk factors specific to this community were identified. The implications of these findings to screening and referral for further evaluation and intervention are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-549
Number of pages9
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2004


  • Arab culture
  • Language delay
  • Preschool
  • Screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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