What is screening?
Developmental screening is “a brief assessment procedure designed to identify children who should receive more intensive diagnostic assessment.” * Developmental screening identifies children in need of further evaluation, enabling early intervention.
Studies demonstrate the need for developmental screening. While 12 to 18% of US children have a developmental disorder, fewer than 30% of these children are identified by clinician judgment before entering school. Developmental screening can boost this identification rate considerably.
Given our limited time and resources in primary care, there are understandable reservations about adding yet another step to well child visits. But developmental screening ends up saving us time and improving the care we provide.
* Dworkin PH. Developmental Screening: (Still) Expecting the Impossible? Pediatrics. 1992 Jun;89(6 Pt 2):1253-5.
The AAP recommends developmental surveillance at every well-child visit as well as periodic use of a validated screening instrument. “Waiting until a young child misses a major milestone, such as walking or talking, may result in late rather than early recognition.”
Identifying Infants and Young Children With Developmental Disorders in the Medical Home: An Algorithm for Developmental Surveillance and Screening. Council on Children With Disabilities et al. Pediatrics. 2006; 118: 405-420