expressive and receptive language delay

Ohio Study Links Chemicals to Kids’ Expressive and Receptive Language Delay

Despite how they may act sometimes, your child probably isn’t allergic to cleaning. However, there is evidence that exposure to some kinds of household cleaning chemicals when they’re very young may be linked to expressive and receptive language delay.

A study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics by researchers at The Ohio State University found that exposure to certain toxic chemicals and household cleaners either during pregnancy or when the child was under 2 was associated with a noticeable uptick in expressive and receptive language delay. This was true even when controlled for socioeconomic status and the mothers’ education (factors that are also associated with pediatric language delays).

Researchers followed 190 lower-income families in the Columbus area from birth to age 5. Their mothers completed questionnaires related to exposure to toxicants inside the home — including the use of various household chemicals like floor cleaners, toilet cleaners and other solvents. Study authors also examined the families’ exposure to mold and pesticides. Then they measured the kids’ language development – both from 1-year-old and again at 2-years-old. The correlation was notable.

The researchers also reported that these same kids tended to score lower on tests measuring cognitive development and other developmental skills.

Does this mean your floor cleaner is causing language delays? Researchers fell short of making that assertion. However, the correlation was significant enough that it likely warrants consideration. At the very least, if you can, have someone else handle the cleaning chemicals while pregnant or when your young kids are afoot. Alternatively, you might switch to natural formulas with fewer harsh chemicals, at least while your kids are small.

Researchers urged doctors to talk to parents of young children about limiting their use of harsh chemical cleaners in the home, particularly when kids are under the age of 5. While pregnant people may tend to limit their use of chemicals while they’re pregnant, they may think of it less when their child is born. But parents should continue to prioritize this, especially in a child’s first few years of life when there is so much pivotal brain development happening.

What is an Expressive and Receptive Language Delay?

As our Cleveland speech-language pathologists can explain, 24 months of age is a peak time for learning and language development. That means it’s also the age at which we first begin to notice if a child has an expressive or receptive language delay.

For those who may be unfamiliar, a receptive language delay involves one’s difficulty understanding words or communication that is being shared with them by another.

Expressive language delay, on the other hand, is when there is difficulty in expressing communication with others.

Often, we don’t know what causes language delays. It could be environmental elements, but it could also be genetics, exposure to language/communication, etc. For example, kids who are read to regularly by their caregivers tend to have lower rates of expressive and receptive language delay.

What we can say for certain is that if you are concerned your child may have a language delay, it is best NOT to “wait and see.” The longer you wait, the more difficult it may be for your child to catch up to their same-age peers. Early intervention speech therapy can often close the language delay gap faster than if you wait until a child is preschool age or older.

Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

Household chemical use linked to child language delays, March 4, 2020, Ohio State University

More Blog Entries:

Study: Baby Speech-Language Development Delay & Screen Time Linked, Aug. 21, 2023, Cleveland Pediatric Speech Therapy Blog