Developmental Screening

Assessing children’s development is one of the most important and valuable aspects of well-child care. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and Bright Futures guidelines call for routine screening by pediatric health care providers for developmental and behavioral problems and delays using standardized developmental screening tools.1, 2 Parents were asked a series of questions to assess whether children received basic developmental assessments and to measure whether a parent completed a developmental and behavioral screening tool. Specifically, parents were asked:

  1. whether the child’s doctors or other health care providers asked the parent if he/she had concerns about the child’s learning, development or behavior; and
  2. whether parents filled out a questionnaire about specific concerns and observations they had about their child’s development, communication or social behavior. These items were based on the Promoting Healthy Development Survey.3

Parents of about 30 percent of children aged 10 months–5 years reported that their children had received both components of the standard developmental screen. This percentage did not vary by location.

The proportion of young children who received a standard developmental screen did not vary significantly across income groups or insurance types.

1 Hagan JF, Shaw J S, Duncan PM, eds. Bright Futures: guidelines for health supervision of infants, children, and adolescents, 3rd ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2008.

2 American Academy of Pediatrics. Statement on identifying infants and young children with developmental disorders in the medical home. In: Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, 3rd ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2008.

3 Bethell C, Reuland C, Schor E. Assessing health system provision of well-child care: the Promoting Healthy Development Survey. Pediatrics. 2001;107(5):1084–1094.

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