Report: Most Idaho Kids Don’t Get Screened For Developmental Problems

Nov 8, 2013

Developmental screening questionnaires ask about children's fine and gross motor skills as well as cognitive and social skills.
Credit tanakawho / Flickr Creative Commons

Less than 30 percent of Idaho kids get developmental screenings recommended by doctors. That’s according to a report out this week from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids get screened for developmental problems at nine-months-old, 18-to-24 months and at 30 months.

Perry Brown, pediatric education director at the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho says those screenings are questionnaires doctors give to parents. Brown leafs through a file and pulls one out for parents of a 24-month-old.

“For language and communication it asks, ‘Without showing her first, does your child point to the correct picture when you say show me the kitty or ask where is the dog?’” Brown says. “Another question, ‘does your child correctly use at least two words like 'me, I, mine and you?’”

That’s from the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, known as ASQ which is one of the most commonly used screens for a variety of developmental problems. It also asks questions on motor skills, problem solving and personal and social skills. There’s another questionnaire to screen for autism given starting at 18 months.

According to the Annie E. Cassie report, 76 percent of Idaho parents say they never received any of these questionnaires.

Brown says when these screenings take place doctors catch 80 to 85 percent of developmental problems. When they don’t, only 15 to 20 percent are identified.

“If you don’t identify the problem there’s no opportunity for early intervention to help the child augment and catch up that developmental process,” he says. “It’s very clear from studies that have been done that early intervention is vastly helpful both for the eventual outcome of the child but also in terms of cost savings further down the road.”

Brown isn’t sure why Idaho is below average on giving these screenings. He speculates some Idaho doctors may not be giving parents the questionnaires. And he says Idaho is low on the percentage of children who come in for routine checkups.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation recommends states create policies to encourage these screenings and make them easier to access. 

Originally we reported that 72 percent of Idaho kids did not get developmental screenings. The organization Idaho Kids Count, part of the Annie E. Casey Foundation family, tells us that number is just for low income children and that 76 percent of all Idaho kids were not screened.

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