Rates of parent-centered developmental screening: Disparities and links to services access

Christina Bethell, Colleen Reuland, Edward Schor, Melinda Abrahms, Neal Halfon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: In 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended developmental screening of young children with a standardized screening tool as a routine component of well-child care. OBJECTIVES: To assess the national and state prevalence of standardized, parent-completed developmental screening (DS-PC) in the previous 12 months and evaluate associations between screening and receipt of an early-intervention plan or mental health services for children at higher risk. METHODS: Data from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health were used. Nested t tests were used to compare each state to national prevalence. Logistic and multilevel regression models evaluated variations and associations with DS-PC. RESULTS: Nationally, 19.5% of children received a DS-PC in the previous 12 months, although the figure varied from 10.7% to 47% across the United States. Prevalence did not rise above 26.7% for any socioeconomic subgroup of children and was highest for younger, black, and publicly insured children and lowest for uninsured children and children with gaps in insurance coverage. Equally high-risk children varied twofold in their probability of receiving early intervention or needed mental health services according to whether they had received a DS-PC. CONCLUSIONS: There is a significant gap between the developmental screening that is recommended and what is reported nationally. When children are not screened consistently, opportunities for early identification, intervention, and treatment may be delayed. Gaps in screening and wide variations across states present considerable opportunities for cross-state learning to improve quality on this critical component of preventive pediatric care. Measurement systems for assessing prevalence and impact of screening require continued evaluation and development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-155
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Developmental screening
  • Early childhood
  • Early intervention
  • Mental health
  • National Survey of Children's Health
  • Parent survey
  • State variations
  • Well-child care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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