What causes a stammer? Joe Biden first president with condition that affects 1.5 million adults in the UK

Many people in the public spotlight such as Tiger Woods, Ed Sheeran, and Bruce Willis all have a stammer

Joe Biden will become the first US president to have a stammer when he is sworn in on 20 January 2021.

The president-elect said that, because of his stammer, he has “an insight I don’t think I ever would have had into other people’s pain”.

He is one of millions of people of all ages to have the condition worldwide, which includes more than 1.5 million adults across the UK.

Joe Biden will become the first US president to have a stammer when he is sworn in on 20 January 2021. (Pic: Getty)


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But what causes a stammer and is it something you can control?

Find out more below.

What is stammering?

Stammering, sometimes referred to as stuttering, is a relatively common speech problem in childhood, which can persist into adulthood.


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Signs of stammering can be when you repeat sounds or syllables, you make sounds longer, or a word gets stuck or does not come out at all.

Stammering can vary in its severity with two main types: developmental stammering, when speech and language skills are still developing in early childhood; and acquired stammering, which can happen in older children or adults as a result of a head injury, stroke or trauma.

What causes someone to stammer?

NHS guidance states: “It is not possible to say for sure why a child starts stammering, but it is not caused by anything the parents have done.


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“Developmental and inherited factors may play a part, along with small differences in how efficiently the speech areas of the brain are working.”

Many kids grow out of stammering as the brain develops, or learns to compensate with a stammer, which can be brought on by a number of factors.

These factors include speech development, as a child's brain learns how to construct sentences through regular practice, and genetics, with around two-thirds of people with stammer have a family history of stammering.

Can stammering be cured?


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There are lots of places online for people wanting to seek help or support with their stammer can access from The British Stammering Association, STAMMA, to The Stuttering Foundation.

Different techniques can be used to help people with a stammer speak more easily, often these approaches are done with the help of a speech and language therapist.

Slowing down your speech and regular practice might help ease your stammer, while creating a relaxing environment where someone feels confident to talk might also help.

Check the NHS website for examples of treatment.


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What famous people have a stammer?

There are plenty of people in the public spotlight with a stammer, or stutter, who didn’t let the condition hold them back from pursuing their interests.

Joe Biden was seen stammering during a debate with Donald Trump in the build up to the 2020 election, which Biden won. He has enjoyed a long political career after first being elected to the Senate in 1973. Aged 30, he was the sixth-youngest senator in US history.

Other famous people with a stammer include former UK prime minister Winston Churchill, golfer Tiger Woods, basketballer Shaquille O'Neal, actor Bruce Willis, actress Marilyn Monroe, musician Ed Sheeran, and the 'King of Rock and Roll' Elvis Presley.