BACKGROUND : South Africa presents with high preterm birth (PTB) and low birth weight (LBW)
rates (14.17%). Numerous conditions characterised by language impairment are associated
with LBW and/or PTB. Speech-language therapists may fail to identify older children whose
language impairment may have originated from LBW and/or PTB.
OBJECTIVE : To describe the frequency of LBW and/or PTB, in comparison with full-term birth,
and associated conditions in children at an early communication intervention (ECI) clinic.
METHODS : Retrospective data of 530 children aged 3–74 months were analysed, with 91.9%
presenting with language impairment.
RESULTS : Almost 40% had LBW and/or PTB, and late PTB was the largest category. Factors
associated with LBW and/or PTB were prenatal risks, including small-for-gestational
age, perinatal risks, including caesarean section, and primary developmental conditions.
Secondary language impairment was prevalent, associated with genetic conditions and global
CONCLUSION : The frequency of LBW and/or PTB was unexpectedly high, drawing attention to
the origins of language impairment in almost 40% of the caseload at the ECI clinic.