Structural and pragmatic language in young children with sex chromosome trisomy (XXX, XXY, XYY): predictive value for neurobehavioral problems one year later

Evelien Urbanus, Hanna Swaab, Nicole Tartaglia, Constance Stumpel, Sophie van Rijn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: To investigate pragmatic language abilities in young children with an increased risk for adverse neurobehavioral and neurocognitive outcomes due to an extra X or Y chromosome (sex chromosome trisomy; SCT) and to investigate to what degree early structural and pragmatic language abilities are predictive of neurobehavioral problems one year later. Method: In total, 72 children with SCT and 71 controls aged 3-7 years were included. Language assessments included parent-reported pragmatic language skills and direct assessment of structural language abilities. Parent-reported behavioral outcomes were measured one year after the initial language assessment. Results: Children with SCT demonstrated weaker pragmatic language skills compared to controls. These differences were not driven by karyotype, time of diagnosis, or ascertainment bias and irrespective of the presence of structural language impairment. Odds of having pragmatic difficulties was 23 times higher in the SCT group, with 25% of the children not meeting age-expectations. In addition, language, in particular pragmatic language, was an important predictor for later affective, oppositional defiant, pervasive developmental, attention deficit, and social-emotional problems in young children with SCT. Conclusions: This study is one of the first studies that directly illustrates the relationship between language and behavioral outcomes in children with SCT. Our results stress the importance to closely monitor pragmatic language in addition to structural language in clinical care of children with SCT, as pragmatic language abilities could serve as an early marker for children at risk for developing behavioral problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-675
Number of pages26
JournalNeuropsychology, Development and Cognition. Section D: The Clinical Neuropsychologist
Issue number3
Early online date28 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • 47,XXY
  • BOYS
  • Structural language
  • early development
  • neurobehavioral outcomes
  • pragmatic language
  • sex chromosome trisomy
  • Neurobehavioral outcomes
  • Early development
  • Pragmatic language
  • Sex chromosome trisomy

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