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Get help for stuttering child

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Updated: September 30, 2012 6:06AM



Q. My son is 5 1/2 , and he’s started stuttering. My husband also stuttered as a child, but as an adult he speaks quite well. I know kids can grow out of it, but is this something we should be concerned about right now?

A. Don’t be too alarmed; stuttering affects 5 percent of kids between the ages of 2 and 6. And while you can’t know for sure that your child will grow out of it, 80 percent of kids do within 12 to 24 months.

Still, early intervention (if he’s been stuttering for three months) is valuable. Therapy can help put his speech difficulties behind him sooner rather than later, and that can make him more self-confident and socially relaxed. That’s important for his making friends, which is key for intellectual development. Kids need buddies to become healthy and smart.

Three things we do know about stuttering: It runs in families, it affects boys three times more often than girls, and it has a brain component. Scans of a brain area that’s important for speech show structural differences in some people who stutter.

Therapy works by creating a neural workaround. It’s most successful with young children who haven’t learned that talking can be difficult or is a negative experience.

Advanced language and communication skills can be damaged if stuttering persists without treatment. So go for professional therapy early, and see your nearest medical center’s developmental pediatrician and speech therapist.

In the meantime, make sure you help him by talking to him slowly and clearly, and by expecting the same level of intellectual ability from him that you would from any child his age who doesn’t stutter.

Q. My mom (Grandma) is always picking up my baby’s pacifier off the floor and saying, “5-second rule — it’s OK.” It freaks me out. Is it safe?

A. Is there any science behind many moms’ favorite germ-control method — the 5-second rule? Millions of parents, grandparents and legions of parenting gurus and doctors say there is. But we thought we might take a closer look, and you’ll be surprised by what we found.

Even though you want to make sure your children’s immune system develops properly, too much of the 5-second rule isn’t healthy. It depends on what hit the ground (wet things like apple slices and pacifiers collect germs quickly) and where it landed (the sidewalk is surprisingly clean, say researchers, while your kitchen floor may have bacteria from raw meat juices and other foods.

If nasty bacteria are lurking underfoot, it takes ingesting about 10,000 of them to get sick. Any fewer and the body usually fights them off rather easily. So, how soon can those 10,000 glom on to a dropped pacifier? In a flash — whether it’s been 1 second or 30 — it’s covered with bacteria.

Picking it up and giving it a quick rinse under running water may reduce the amount to an acceptable level, around 1,000.

What you do not want to do is put hand sanitizer on the object. Instead, travel with spare pacifiers and sippy cups; use water to rinse off food and objects when possible. Really stuck? Wipe it off with a paper towel and keep your fingers crossed.



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