Q&A: Can tickling a baby cause stuttering?

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Q: I was wondering if tickling affected babies. My sister read somewhere that tickling caused stuttering. When the babies grew up they would have a stuttering problem. Could you tell me if this is true or simply a myth?

A: I’ve got good news for you: This is a myth, as tickling is not the cause of stuttering. While there are several theories that attempt to explain the cause of developmental stuttering (also sometimes referred to as “stammering”), the true cause is still unknown. Developmental stuttering simply describes a problem with speech fluency that typically becomes noticeable between the ages of 2 and 4, is more common in boys than girls, and has a tendency to run in families and twins—suggesting that genetics (rather than tickling) is likely to play a significant role.

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