Only about one-third of young children in the U.S. receive recommended screenings or surveillance designed to catch developmental delays. Findings reveal wide variations in rates across states, with as few as 17 percent of children under three years old receiving developmental screening in the lowest performing state. The study was led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with colleagues at the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau and Oregon Health & Sciences University.
The findings, published online July 9 in JAMA Pediatrics, highlight an area ripe for improvements, despite more than a decade of initiatives designed to promote these important programs.
Approximately 12 percent to 15 percent of American children experience developmental delays or disabilities. These include conditions that affect small motor skills, such as holding a crayon; large motor skills, such as walking; or social and behavioral skills, such as talking.
Identifying these issues early is critical to getting children and their families the help they need in order to advance developmental skills — particularly before school age, when problems can affect academic performance and have lifelong consequences, explains Dr. Christina Bethell, professor in the department of population, family and reproductive health at the Bloomberg School and director of the School’s Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative.