US President Donald Trump delivers a statement on Jerusalem from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, DC on December 6, 2017 as US Vice President Mike Pence looks on.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump delivers a statement on Jerusalem from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, DC on December 6, 2017 as US Vice President Mike Pence looks on.
Now playing
01:21
Watch the last moments of Trump's speech
President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Richard Drew/AP
President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Now playing
02:17
Trump claim to world leaders met with laughter
CNNMoney
Now playing
06:22
How Trump's tweet sparked #WhyIDidntReport
President Donald Trump points to the crowd after speaking to law enforcement officials on the street gang MS-13, Friday, July 28, 2017, in Brentwood, N.Y.
Evan Vucci/AP
President Donald Trump points to the crowd after speaking to law enforcement officials on the street gang MS-13, Friday, July 28, 2017, in Brentwood, N.Y.
Now playing
01:46
Trump's I'm-joking-but-not-really strategy
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 15:  U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question as he speaks to members of the White House Press Corps prior to his Marine One departure from the South Lawn of the White House December 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 15: U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question as he speaks to members of the White House Press Corps prior to his Marine One departure from the South Lawn of the White House December 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:20
Trump often says he's 'the least racist person'
CNN
Now playing
01:00
Trump on Manafort: I feel sad about that
Pool
Now playing
01:22
Trump on Cordray: He was groomed by 'Pocahontas'
Now playing
05:58
Baldwin: This face behind Trump startled me
CNN
Now playing
02:01
Trump responds to op-ed: 'Gutless'
CNN Illustration/Getty Images
Now playing
03:18
Why Woodward's book matters
CNN
Now playing
01:13
Dean: Trump acts 'frighteningly dictatorial'
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 08:  U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room at the White House May 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. After two and a half years of negotiations, Iran agreed in 2015 to end its nuclear program in exchange for Western countries, including the United States, lifting decades of economic sanctions. Since then international inspectors have not found any violations of the terms by Iran.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 08: U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room at the White House May 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. After two and a half years of negotiations, Iran agreed in 2015 to end its nuclear program in exchange for Western countries, including the United States, lifting decades of economic sanctions. Since then international inspectors have not found any violations of the terms by Iran. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:31
Woodward book reveals 'crazytown' White House
CNN Illustration/Getty Images
Now playing
03:03
Trump's latest Twitter tirade lashes at media
TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump waits to speak during a memorial service at the Pentagon for the 9/11 terrorist attacks  September 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump waits to speak during a memorial service at the Pentagon for the 9/11 terrorist attacks September 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:57
Trump warns of violence if GOP loses midterms
Photo Illustration: Getty Images/CNN Business
Now playing
01:40
Trump: Impeach somebody who's done great job?
Fox News Channel
Now playing
01:19
Trump on Sessions: What kind of man is this?

Story highlights

President Trump seemed to slur some of his words in a speech, leading to speculation

The White House says "the president is perfectly healthy"

CNN —  

While President Donald Trump was giving his historic speech Wednesday to announce that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, some on the internet focused on the manner in which he made his statement.

Toward the end of the news conference, some on Twitter and Facebook noted that the President’s usual speech pattern changed and that he started to slur his words – and they speculated about what it could mean.

The official term for slurred speech is dysarthria, when the muscles you use to speak weaken or you have a hard time completely controlling their use.

People can slur their words for any number of reasons. It can be a sign of problems with a nervous system disorder like a brain tumor or a stroke. People who have cerebral palsy or Guillain-Barré Syndrome can struggle with slurring. Multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Lyme disease, Huntington’s, Myasthenia gravis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Wilson’s disease all can cause it.

Dental work – such as ill-fitting dentures – can also be blamed. Medication can impact speech, as can drugs and alcohol. Or people can simply slur their words when they get tired.

CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a practicing neurosurgeon, said he watched the video closely a few times. “There is clearly some abnormalities of his speech,” he said. “You could call it slurring or just a little bit of difficulty forming the words.”

Michael de Riesthal, a speech and language pathologist, agrees. “There was definitely some imprecise progressive change in articulatory precision and slowing of his speech that is not typical in normal speech,” said de Riesthal, an assistant professor in hearing and speech sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the director of the Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Institute. “The distortion of his articulation, though, is unknown in etiology.”

Neither Gupta nor de Riesthal has ever treated Trump for any reason.

De Riesthal said the distortion was particularly noticeable when the President said “United States.”

Although Trump has what de Riesthal would characterize as a typical Queens, New York, accent, “this was a noticeable change for his speech.” It could be anything, though, especially since it seemed like he was “working hard to speak” – as if “having a denture fall or some other alternative explanation.” However, it definitely “seemed too unusual for something like that to be dry mouth.”

Gupta noted that for most of the 10- to 11-minute speech, the President spoke fine. One sign that it was unlikely to be a bigger medical concern: After the speech,Trump walked over to a desk, pulled out the chair, sat down and signed a proclamation. All normal movements.

“All of that is relevant because he doesn’t appear to have any motor weakness,” Gupta said.

With a stroke, for instance, you would often see more indications of weakness or drooping of the face. “It would be very unusual to have problems that are isolated to struggling with a few words,” Gupta said.

Of course, it is difficult to diagnose someone from only a video, but the problems may stem from mouth issues, Gupta said.

Follow CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter

  • See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

“I noticed that he clears his mouth after finishing speaking, so whether that was a dry mouth or a misplaced dental issue is unclear, but given everything else, that is a much more likely cause of that,” he said.

Asked whether Trump was feeling OK at the end of the speech, a White House official said, “The President is perfectly healthy; he’s been working in meetings all day and in fact is still here working now.”