Is Stuttering Gender Specific?

by Team Stamurai

Is stuttering gender specific? Yes. Well… it is certainly biased in terms to inheriting the condition, recovering from it, and social roles that it imposes.

Genetic pre-disposition

Speech defects like stuttering are a result of a lack of control of one’s sensory- motor reflexes. This structural anomaly of the motor and sensory regions of the brain has been traced to different factors. Whether it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors or the inheritance of X-linked chromosome remains unclear. However, statistics state that the chances of the men who stutter are to transmit the condition to their daughters is 9% whereas for their sons, it is a staggering 22%. Women who stutter are likely to pass the pre-disposition towards stuttering to 17% of their daughters and 36% (roughly double) of their sons. Thus, mothers are more likely to pass down the genetic anomaly to their children, of whom men are more likely to inherit the speech impediment than women.

Difference in Brain Structure

The structural anomalies between the two hemispheres of the brain that has been attributed to speech defects also differs among men and women. Scientific studies with the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging of the brain structures of male and female stutterers illuminate the differences. There exists significantly higher connectivity between the two brain hemispheres in women who stutter that it does in their male counterparts.

Recovery Rates

Stammering - Ratio of men to women that stutter is 4:1

Of all the reported cases of young infants and children who stutter, 80% recover from the impediment. Either through hard work and the help of speech therapists or naturally (without treatment, which occurs exceptionally rarely). Of these 80%, most are women whereas men carry the speech defect into adulthood. As children, the sex ratio of men and women who stutter is 2:1 respectively. However, among adults the men who stutter to that of women is 4:1.

Whether women are resistant to inheriting speech defects, neurologically better equipped to recover, or their cases remain unreported and undocumented is an important topic of scientific inquiry. Gender, however, remains one of the most distinguishing and significant factors for the predisposition towards stuttering and other speech impediments.

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