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A combination of factors may be involved in stuttering. Possible causes include:

  • Normal speech development. Young children may stutter when their speech and language abilities aren't developed enough to keep up with what they want to say. Most children outgrow developmental stuttering within four years.
  • Inherited brain abnormalities. Stuttering tends to run in families. It appears that stuttering results from inherited (genetic) abnormalities in the language centers of the brain.
  • Stroke or brain injury. Stuttering can sometimes result from a stroke, trauma or other brain injury.
  • Mental health problems. In isolated cases, emotional trauma or problems with thoughts or reasoning lead to stuttering. This was once believed to be the main cause of stuttering, but it's now known that it's uncommon.

Researchers are still studying the underlying causes of stuttering. It's not clear why most people who stutter can speak without stuttering when they talk to themselves and when they sing or speak in unison with someone else.

Sep. 08, 2011