What is stuttering?

Also known as: hairline stuttering.

Stuttering or stammering is an abnormality in the normal pattern of speech (disfluency). It may take a number of forms from repetition of a sound or syllable especially at the beginning of a word (e.g. “hi- hi- hi his” or “ m-m-m mom”) or as pauses, the elongation of other sounds, complete stoppage or removal of a sound or repeated interruptions with an “um” for example. Stuttering can occur at any age but is frequently found in boys starting between 18 months and 2 years, often coming and going until 5 years of age (this is normal developmental stuttering). Even though it may be severe and last a while most children will not go on stuttering into adulthood (only 1% or fewer adults stutter).

True problem stuttering may be suggested by stuttering that continues past 5 years of age, has facial muscle strain, vigorous effort or tension when trying to talk, voice rising in pitch as the child struggles to say the word, or the child avoids the letter or word that that is difficult to say. The child becomes afraid to speak often speaking slowly and the stuttering gets worse with tiredness, excitement or under stress.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 1/29/2019 3:21:13 PM

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