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Occupational Hazard for Teachers?

Researchers link speech and language disorders with the profession

FRIDAY, Oct. 18, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Teachers are much more likely than people with other jobs to be diagnosed with progressive speech and language disorders, according to a new study.

"Teachers are in daily communication," study senior author Dr. Keith Josephs, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said in a Mayo news release. "It's a demanding occupation, and teachers may be more sensitive to the development of speech and language impairments."

Those with progressive speech and language disorders may lose their ability to form sentences or articulate the right sounds when they are speaking. Although these disorders are different from the dementia associated with Alzheimer's disease, they are usually fatal within 10 years of the initial diagnosis, according to the news release.

In conducting the study, which was published in the September issue of the American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease & Other Dementias, the researchers examined roughly 100 patients with progressive speech and language disorders, most of whom were teachers. The researchers compared this group to more than 400 people with Alzheimer's disease involved in the Mayo Clinic Study on Aging.

The study revealed that people with speech and language disorders were three and a half times more likely to be teachers than were patients with Alzheimer's disease. The researchers said other jobs were not associated with this type of discrepancy, the news release said.

It is important to note that although the study found an association between teaching and incidence of speech and language disorders, it did not show a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association provides more information on speech and language disorders (http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/ ).

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, Oct. 15, 2013