Disparities in Familiarity With Developmental Disabilities Among Low-Income Parents

Katharine E. Zuckerman, Alison E. Chavez, Carolina Regalado Murillo, Olivia J. Lindly, Julie A. Reeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objective: Parent knowledge about developmental disabilities (DDs) may facilitate access to DD care; however, parents may vary in their knowledge and familiarity with common DDs. This study aimed to assess racial/ethnic and language differences in low-income families’ familiarity, knowledge, and personal experience with DDs. Methods: We conducted a child development survey among 539 low-income parents of young children attending visits at the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in 6 Oregon counties in 2015. Survey items assessed parent familiarity with early signs of DDs, self-reported knowledge about DDs, and personal experience with a friend or family member with a DD. Bivariable and multivariable analyses assessed differences in outcomes among non-Latino white (white), Latino English-proficient (Latino-EP), Latino limited–English-proficient (Latino-LEP), and non-Latino other race English-proficient (other race) parents. Results: Overall, parent participants correctly identified 64.7% of early signs of DDs. White parents correctly identified the most early signs, even after adjustment for sociodemographic factors. Compared with white parents, Latino-LEP, Latino-EP, and other race parents were less likely to have heard of prevalent DDs, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism, and less likely to have a friend or family member with a DD. Conclusions: Low-income Latino-LEP and other race parents have less familiarity or personal experience with DDs and are less aware of early signs of DDs compared to low-income white parents. Study findings suggest that interventions to reduce disparities in DD diagnosis and treatment should include increasing information transfer to parents in racial/ethnic and language minority communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)944-951
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Pediatrics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Children
  • Infants
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women
  • child development
  • developmental disabilities
  • health care disparities
  • health services accessibility
  • health services accessibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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