Kids and adults needed for largest ever stuttering study

Queenslanders aged seven and above who have a history of stuttering are being encouraged to volunteer for the nation’s largest ever ‘Genetics of Stuttering Study’.

3000 Australians are required for the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Speech and Language study, which aims to pinpoint the genes that predispose individuals to stuttering.

Co-chief investigator, Speech Pathologist, and Pro Vice Chancellor (Health) at Griffith University, Professor Sheena Reilly says the study outcomes may open the door for new treatment opportunities for stuttering in the future.


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“Finding genes associated with stuttering will help identify biological pathways involved and unveil new therapeutic opportunities to treat the disorder,” says Professor Reilly. “By volunteering for this research study, participants will be helping us to identify these genes.

“Participation in this study will ultimately help to shed light on how to best treat stuttering before it affects an individual’s confidence and quality of life.”

Stuttering affects people from all backgrounds, intelligence levels, and personalities. It typically emerges between two-to-four years of age, after children have already begun to speak, with around four percent of young children experiencing a phase during which they prolong words, or “get stuck” trying to talk.

Although the exact cause of stuttering is unknown, genetics does play a role in the disorder, with a number of genetic mutations identified to date.

Boys and girls aged seven and above, together with men and women nationwide who have a history of stuttering, may volunteer for the study. Volunteers will need to complete a 10-minute online survey and record a short sample of their speech. Recruitment will close in December 2019.

Those who qualify will be invited to provide a saliva sample for DNA analysis, to enable researchers to unravel the genes that predispose people to stuttering.

Queensland residents who currently stutter, or have a history of stuttering, and wish to volunteer for the ‘Genetics of Stuttering Study,’ or to learn more, can head to geneticsofstutteringstudy.org.au or email geneticsofspeech@mcri.edu.au

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