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Longitudinal Study: LSAC
Title: Healthcare costs associated with language difficulties up to 9 years of age: Australian population-based study
Authors: Lucas, Nina 
Reilly, Sheena 
Sciberras, Emma 
Gold, Lisa 
Wake, Melissa 
Nicholson, Jan 
Mensah, Fiona 
Westrupp, Elizabeth 
Publication Date: Nov-2013
Keywords: children
Abstract: Aim: Surprisingly little is known about the healthcare costs associated with language difficulties, precluding estimations of the economic implications of service improvements. This study aimed to quantify the non-hospital healthcare costs associated with language difficulties across the early to middle childhood years. Method: Data from waves 1-3 of LSAC (B and K cohorts) were used to estimate the healthcare costs associated with language difficulties from birth to 9 years. Language difficulties were defined as scores ≤ 1.25 SDs below the mean on measures of communication (0-3 years) and vocabulary (4-9 years). Participant data were linked to administrative data (Medicare) on non-hospital healthcare attendances and prescription medications. Results: Between 5 to 12% were defined as having a language difficulty at each wave. Two-year healthcare costs were higher for children with language difficulties at each age compared to those without language difficulties, most notably 36% higher (mean $AU206, 95% CI: $90 to $321; p=0.005) at 4-5 years (B cohort) and 29% higher (mean $AU141, 95% CI: $32 to $251; p=0.01) at 8-9 years (K cohort). The majority of costs were attributable to healthcare attendances rather than prescription medications. Two-year government costs ranged from $AU1.2 million at 6-7 years, to $AU12.1 million at 0-1 years when modelled to the Australian population. Six-year healthcare costs increased with the persistence of language difficulties (p=0.002). Conclusions: Language difficulties are associated with substantial excess population healthcare costs in childhood. Healthcare costs increased with the persistence of language difficulties highlighting the importance of early preventative and remedial interventions.
Conference: Growing Up in Australia and Footprints in Time: The LSAC and LSIC Research Conference
Conference location: Melbourne, Australia
Keywords: Children -- Early childhood; Child Development -- Speech and Language; Human Capital -- Health; Income & Finance -- Expenditure and constraints on expenditure
Research collection: Conference Presentations
Appears in Collections:Conference Presentations

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