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Michigan researcher takes up the genetics of stuttering

(95.3 MNC)

(Michigan News Connection) More than 2.5 million Americans stutter at some point in their lives, and a Michigan researcher is among those learning more about the genetics of stuttering.

There is no known cure for it, but experts say newly identified genes associated with stuttering can help them find out if there are links to other conditions or possible treatments.

Shelly Jo Kraft, who directs the Behavior, Speech and Genetics lab at Wayne State University, said the new genes are helping researchers learn more about the factors that contribute to stuttering, or protect people from risk.

“We’ve known stuttering is inherited for a long time,” she said, “but there’s been a lot of community misinformation about stuttering, a lot of stigma, a lot of misconception about why someone stutters.”

She said having more information about how the genes operate that lead people to stutter can help push back against those misconceptions – to show that stuttering isn’t a personality trait, or caused by a traumatic event.

In addition to learning more about the genetics of stuttering, Kraft said, the research is showing that the condition is much more prevalent than once thought. At least 5% to 6% of children and 1% of adults experience stuttering, but she said that may be an undercount.

“A lot of children do stutter for a transient amount of time during childhood,” she said, “and with the help of therapy, with the help of their parents and natural things that parents do in response to stuttering, the stuttering goes away.”

Kraft, who has collected DNA samples from roughly 1,800 people who stutter from 250 families globally, has partnered with a research lab at Vanderbilt University to expand their reach to a worldwide repository of DNA information.

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4 comments

henry smith January 23, 2022 at 4:47 am

will it actually solve anything?

Reply
Charles U Farley January 23, 2022 at 4:42 pm

M-m-maybe.

The real question is, are tax dollars funding this?

Reply
henry smith January 24, 2022 at 2:19 pm

3 million Americans have this speech impediment that can seriously affect their social life and mental health, and you find this okay to mock?

Reply

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