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Objective: To review the past 10 years of research in child language or communication disorders, which are highly prevalent in the general population and comorbid with childhood psychiatric disorders.

Method: A literature search of 3 major databases was conducted. The child language literature, describing the domains of language development-phonology, grammar, semantics, and pragmatics-is reviewed.

Results: Disorders of grammar, semantics, and pragmatics, but not phonology, overlap significantly with childhood psychiatric disorders. Receptive language disorders have emerged as high-risk indicators, often undiagnosed. Language disorders and delays are psychiatric risk factors and have implications for evaluation, therapy, and research. However, they are often undiagnosed in child mental health and community settings. The research has focused mostly on monolingual English-speaking children.

Conclusion: Awareness of basic child language development, delay, and deviance is crucial for the practicing child and adolescent psychiatrist, who must diagnose and refer relevant cases for treatment and remediation. Future research needs to address the growing language diversity of our clinical populations.

Copyright 2000 (C) American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry