Children who are bilingual before the age of five are more likely to stutter than their non-bilingual counterparts, according to a British study published today.
They also find it harder to shed this impediment.
The research was conducted among 317 London children who were referred to a speech therapist when they were aged between eight and 10.
One in five of the stutterers were bilingual, speaking English at school and a second language at home.
Boys outnumbered girls by a ratio of four to one.
The study, headed by psychologist Peter Howell of University College London, appears in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, published by the British Medical Association (BMA).
It found that stuttering, bilingual children usually stutter in both languages, rather than just one.
By concentrating on the minority language up to the age of five, and then acquiring English, the risk of stuttering is reduced and overcoming the problem is easier, the study proposes.
Starting English somewhat later, and learning it at the same time as the minority language, does not affect educational success, according to tests on children at the age of seven and 11, it said.
Source: The Age, Australia