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  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:



(Stammering; Disfluent Speech)


Stuttering is a speech disorder. It causes a person to repeat sounds, syllables, or words. Some sounds may be long and speech may be interrupted.


The exact cause is not known. It may be due to:

  • A child's ability to speak does not match his verbal demands
  • Certain genes
  • A person has a stroke, head trauma, or other type of brain injury
  • A person has emotional trauma—this is rare
Muscles and Nerves Involved in Speech.

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Risk Factors

Stuttering is more common in males and in children who are 2 to 6 years of age. Family history also raises the chances of stuttering.


A person who has a stutter may:

  • Repeat sounds, syllables, or words
  • Make long sounds within words
  • Have between-word pauses and lack of sound
  • Have spurting speech


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. A speech language therapist may also do an exam. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.


There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. This can be done with therapy to:

  • Improve the ability to speak smoothly
  • Learn ways to lessen stuttering, such as speaking more slowly or using breathing methods


There are no current guidelines to prevent stuttering.





  • Cruz, C., Amorim, H., et al. Neurogenic stuttering: a review of the literature. Rev Neurol. 2018; 66 (2): 59-64.
  • Speech and language disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/speech-and-language-disorders.
  • Stuttering. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/stuttering.
  • Stuttering. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/pages/stutter.aspx.


  • James Cornell, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.