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Large Families and Language Development

January 27, 2014

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Does living in a large family with more than three kids, mean some of the little ones may have language issues?

In past studies, the more children in a family, the more resource "dilution" there seemed to be. Meaning some of the kids didn't get as much language stimulation from their parents.

Now, a new study finds some of those younger children can thrive on the language front, if an older sibling steps up and encourages him or her. Data were gathered from 385 children who were all about 3-year olds, and their next-in-age older sibling. The children's vocabulary was directly tested and videos were taken of everyday interactions between the 3 years olds, their mothers and their siblings.

When all was said and done, the youngest sibling in a large family did receive less cognitive interaction with their parents, but if the next-in-age older sibling engaged with them in a meaningful way, like playing and talking to them, that made up for it and helped the little one get a handle on good language skills.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV, with the news that your doctors are reading — health news that matters to you.