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As many as 40% to 50% of the children pediatric clinicians serve are growing up in low-income households. Among the myriad physical and mental health sequelae of early adversity and toxic stress, language development appears to be one area particularly vulnerable to the stressors associated with poverty. The effects of poverty on language development have been documented in children as young as 9 months, becoming more clinically evident by 24 months.1 The consequences of early adversity–related language delays may be profound, leading to later learning delays, school failure, and lifelong social and economic consequences.2
Radesky JS, Carta J, Bair-Merritt M. The 30 Million–Word GapRelevance for Pediatrics. JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(9):825-826. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.1486