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Pediatr Neurol. 1994 Jun;10(4):304-8.

Reliability of parental recall of developmental milestones.

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School of Physical & Occupational Therapy, McGill University-Montreal Children's Hospital, Quebec, Canada.


The developmental history is a key element of the pediatric evaluation. Precise determination of a child's milestones depends on the parent's recollection of developmental events. As part of a prospective study examining neonatal predictors of outcome, healthy and high-risk newborns were assessed by a neurologist at 1, 3, and 5 years of age. The consistency of a parent's recall of two milestones (i.e., first steps and first meaningful word) was examined at 3 and 5 years. The answers provided by the parent(s) at the first visit (mean/S.D.: 12.67/1.19 months) provided the comparison standard. Twenty-five healthy and 50 high-risk infants had acquired 1 or both developmental skills by the first visit. Of 75, 63 were reexamined at 3 and/or 5 years by the same neurologist. For first steps, excellent correlations were obtained at 3 years (r = 0.74) and modest correlations were determined at 5 years (r = 0.41). The mean difference in age reported between 1 and 3 years was 0.36 +/- 1.81 months, and 0.33 +/- 2.46 months between 1 and 5 years. For first word, correlations were poor at 3 and 5 years (r = 0.27 and r = -0.11, respectively), with mean discrepancies in recall of 2.43 +/- 4.37 months (3-year visit) and 2.74 +/- 5.56 months (5-year visit). Twenty percent (n = 13) of parents reported discrepancies of 6 or more months (mean: 9.4; range: 6-25 months). Furthermore, this error in reporting of first word was later than the correct age in all patients.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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