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Pediatrics. 2013 Jan;131(1):30-7. doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-0765. Epub 2012 Dec 17.

Effectiveness of developmental screening in an urban setting.

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PolicyLab, Center to Bridge Research, Practice, Policy, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania19104, USA.



To determine the effectiveness of developmental screening on the identification of developmental delays, early intervention (EI) referrals, and EI eligibility.


This randomized controlled, parallel-group trial was conducted from December 2008 to June 2010 in 4 urban pediatric practices. Children were eligible if they were <30 months old, term, without congenital malformations or genetic syndromes, not in foster care, and not enrolled in EI. Children were randomized to receive 1 of the following: (1) developmental screening using Ages and Stages Questionnaire-II (ASQ-II and Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) with office staff assistance, (2) developmental screening using ASQ-II and M-CHAT without office staff assistance, or (3) developmental surveillance using age-appropriate milestones at well visits. Outcomes were assessed using an intention-to-treat analysis.


A total of 2103 children were enrolled. Most were African-American with family incomes less than $30,000. Children in either screening arm were more likely to be identified with delays (23.0% and 26.8% vs 13.0%; P < .001), referred to EI (19.9% and 17.5% vs 10.2%; P < .001), and eligible for EI services (7.0% and 5.3% vs 3.0%; P < .001) than children in the surveillance arm. Children in the screening arms incurred a shorter time to identification, EI referral, and EI evaluation than children in the surveillance arm.


Children who participated in a developmental screening program were more likely to be identified with developmental delays, referred to EI, and eligible for EI services in a timelier fashion than children who received surveillance alone. These results support policies endorsing developmental screening.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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