Mayo Clinic study: Teachers more likely to develop speech disorders

1 Nov

Leigh Ann Morgan listed the hazards of the teaching profession in The Hazards of Being a Teacher:

Disease Transmission
Teachers spend their days with students, colleagues and parents, making them susceptible to bacterial and viral infections. In fact, a study led by investigators from the MGEN Foundation for Public Health revealed that teachers are more susceptible to certain types of infections than other workers. During the study, researchers surveyed 1,817 non-teachers and 3,679 teachers ranging in age from 20 to 60. After adjusting for variables, they found that male and female teachers had a higher lifetime prevalence of laryngitis and rhinopharyngitis, two infections of the upper respiratory tract. They also found that female teachers had a higher lifetime prevalence of bronchitis. The results of this study appeared in the April 21, 2006, online edition of “BMC Public Health.”
Workplace Violence
The American Psychological Association reports that approximately 7 percent of teachers in the United States are threatened with injury each year. These threats are more prevalent in urban high schools, and female teachers receive more than twice as many threats as male teachers. In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed students as part of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. Nearly 6 percent of the students surveyed admitted carrying a gun, knife or club on school property during the 30 days preceding the survey. This increases the risk for physical violence.
Ergonomic Issues
Ergonomics involves fitting the work environment to the employee instead of forcing the employee to fit the work environment. Employers use the principles of ergonomics to reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries and other occupational health problems. Teachers spend much of their time standing, and may have to bend, stretch and lift to use educational aids and equipment such as blackboards and projectors. This puts them at risk for varicose veins and for injuries, including sprains, strains, pulled muscles, and back injuries. For teachers who spend a lot of time using a computer, the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome is also a concern.
Work-Related Stress
Teachers have several sources of stress in the workplace. They include increased class sizes, student performance objectives, lack of control over work hours and methods, lack of student motivation, difficulty working with parents, lack of professional recognition, and inadequate salary. Although everyone reacts to stress differently, too much stress can affect mood, behavior and physical health. The Mayo Clinic says that stress can lead to headaches, sleep problems, fatigue, muscle tension, upset stomach, chest pain and muscle pain. It can also cause anxiety, irritability, depression, anger, drug or alcohol abuse, social withdrawal, and changes in appetite.
Legal Considerations
Educators must comply with laws designed to ensure that all students have equal access to educational opportunities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, enacted in 1990, gives students with disabilities access to special education services. The act also protects the right of students with disabilities to receive a free public education regardless of their ability. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 implemented education reforms designed to improve student achievement and hold educators responsible for student progress.
Teachers and administrators must also adhere to the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The act gives parents the right to review the education records of their minor children and request the correction of any inaccuracies. It also prohibits educators from releasing information from a student’s education record without written permission from the parent. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as releasing information requested by authorities or complying with a judicial order, but educators need to be aware of these exceptions and release information only when required. Failing to comply with these laws and any state-specific education laws puts teachers at risk of being sued or losing their professional credentials. http://work.chron.com/hazards-being-teacher-9309.html

In addition to the hazards listed by Morgan, a Mayo Clinic study found teachers are more likely to have speech disorders.

Science Daily reported in the article, Teachers More Likely to Have Progressive Speech, Language Disorders:

Mayo Clinic researchers have found a surprising occupational hazard for teachers: progressive speech and language disorders. The research, recently published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias, found that people with speech and language disorders are about 3.5 times more likely to be teachers than patients with Alzheimer’s dementia.1
Speech and language disorders are typically characterized by people losing their ability to communicate — they can’t find words to use in sentences, or they’ll speak around a word. They may also have trouble producing the correct sounds and articulating properly. Speech and language disorders are not the same as Alzheimer’s dementia, which is characterized by the loss of memory. Progressive speech and language disorders are degenerative and ultimately lead to death anywhere from 8-10 years after diagnosis.
In the study, researchers looked at a group of about 100 patients with speech and language disorders and noticed many of them were teachers. For a control, they compared them to a group of more than 400 Alzheimer’s patients from the Mayo Clinic Study on Aging. Teachers were about 3.5 times more likely to develop a speech and language disorder than Alzheimer’s disease. For other occupations, there was no difference between the speech and language disorders group and the Alzheimer’s group.
When compared to the 2008 U.S. census, the speech and language cohort had a higher proportion of teachers, but it was consistent with the differences observed with the Alzheimer’s dementia group.
This study has important implications for early detection of progressive speech and language disorders, says Mayo Clinic neurologist, Keith Josephs, M.D., who is the senior author of the study. A large cohort study focusing on teachers may improve power to identify the risk factors for these disorders….
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131015094508.htm

Citation:

Journal Reference:
1. C. F. Lippa. Loss of Language Skills in Teachers: Is There a Link to Frontotemporal Degeneration? American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, 2013; 28 (6): 549 DOI: 10.1177/1533317513502251
Mayo Clinic (2013, October 15). Teachers more likely to have progressive speech, language disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 1,

Here is the press release from the Mayo Clinic:

Mayo Clinic Study: Teachers More Likely to Have Progressive Speech and Language Disorders
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mayo Clinic researchers have found a surprising occupational hazard for teachers: progressive speech and language disorders. The research, recently published in theAmerican Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias, found that people with speech and language disorders are about 3.5 times more likely to be teachers than patients with Alzheimer’sdementia.
MULTIMEDIA ALERT: For audio and video of Dr. Josephs talking about the study, visit the Mayo Clinic News Network.
Speech and language disorders are typically characterized by people losing their ability to communicate — they can’t find words to use in sentences, or they’ll speak around a word. They may also have trouble producing the correct sounds and articulating properly. Speech and language disorders are not the same as Alzheimer’s dementia, which is characterized by the loss of memory. Progressive speech and language disorders are degenerative and ultimately lead to death anywhere from 8-10 years after diagnosis.
In the study, researchers looked at a group of about 100 patients with speech and language disorders and noticed many of them were teachers. For a control, they compared them to a group of more than 400 Alzheimer’s patients from the Mayo Clinic Study on Aging. Teachers were about 3.5 times more likely to develop a speech and language disorder than Alzheimer’s disease. For other occupations, there was no difference between the speech and language disorders group and the Alzheimer’s group.
When compared to the 2008 U.S. census, the speech and language cohort had a higher proportion of teachers, but it was consistent with the differences observed with the Alzheimer’s dementia group.
This study has important implications for early detection of progressive speech and language disorders, says Mayo Clinic neurologist, Keith Josephs, M.D., who is the senior author of the study. A large cohort study focusing on teachers may improve power to identify the risk factors for these disorders.
“Teachers are in daily communication,” says Dr. Josephs. “It’s a demanding occupation, and teachers may be more sensitive to the development of speech and language impairments.”
The study was funded by National Institute of Health grants R01 DC010367 and P50 AG16574.
###
About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. For more information, visit MayoClinic.com or MayoClinic.org/news.
Journalists can become a member of the Mayo Clinic News Network for the latest health, science and research news and access to video, audio, text and graphic elements that can be downloaded or embedded.

Of course, more information will be needed about whether further studies confirm the Mayo Clinic study and what links, if any, the skill set necessary to be a teacher has to later speech problems. Still, the study has an interesting result.

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