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Matern Child Health J. 2016 Mar;20(3):639-45. doi: 10.1007/s10995-015-1863-2.

Identifying Infants and Toddlers at High Risk for Persistent Delays.

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Department of Health Systems, Management and Policy, Colorado School of Public Health, Children's Outcomes Research Group, Children's Hospital Colorado, 13001 E. 17th Place, MS B117, Aurora, CO, 80045, USA.
JFK Partners, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, USA.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, USA.



Little is known about the extent to which a developmental delay identified in infancy persists into early childhood. This study examined the persistence of developmental delays in a large nationally representative sample of infants and toddlers who did not receive early intervention.


In a sample (n ≈ 8700) derived from the early childhood longitudinal study, birth cohort, we examined developmental changes between 9 and 24 months. Motor and cognitive delays were categorized as none, mild, and moderate/severe. Adjusted ordinal logistic regression models estimated the likelihood of worse developmental delay at 24 months.


About 24 % of children had a cognitive delay and 27 % had a motor delay at either 9- or 24-months. About 77 % of children with mild and 70 % of children with moderate/severe cognitive or motor developmental delay at 9-months had no delay at 24-months. Children with mild cognitive delay at 9-months had 2.4 times the odds of having worse cognitive function at 24-months compared to children with no cognitive delay at 9 months. Children with moderate/severe cognitive delay at 9-months had three times the odds of having worse cognitive abilities at 24-months than children who had no cognitive delay at 9-months. Similar results were found for motor skills.


Developmental delays in infants are changeable, often resolving without treatment. This work provides knowledge about baseline trajectories of infants without and without cognitive and motor delays. It documents the proportion of children's delays that are likely to be outgrown without EI and the rate at which typically-developing infants are likely to display developmental delays at 2-years of age.


Birth cohort; Developmental delay; Early Childhood Longitudinal Study; Early intervention

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