NIH researchers pinpoint additional gene tied to persistent stuttering
Deficit in intracellular trafficking underlies speech disorder
A defect in intracellular trafficking, the process that cells use to move proteins to their correct locations, causes an inherited form of persistent stuttering, according to a new study led by scientists at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health. The findings extend previous studies, providing new insights into the molecular underpinnings of the disorder and reinforcing the notion that persistent stuttering is a neurological (brain) disorder. The results may contribute to a foundation for the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for stuttering. The study was published November 5 in the American Journal of Human Genetics.
Stuttering is a speech disorder in which a person repeats or prolongs sounds, syllables, or words, disrupting the normal flow of speech. The disorder affects people of all ages and begins most frequently in young children between the ages of 2 and 6, as they are developing their language skills. Most children outgrow stuttering but many do not. Researchers estimate that as many as 1 percent of Americans, roughly 3 million people, live with persistent stuttering. While the exact causes of stuttering are unknown, scientists believe that it stems from problems with the circuits in the brain that control speech.
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