What the CDC's Updated Developmental Guidelines Mean for Parents

What the CDC's Updated Developmental Guidelines Mean for Parents

April 26, 20222 min read

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revamped their developmental guidelines for children for the first time in years, allowing parents to know earlier if their kids may be experiencing any delays. 

Villanova University nursing professor Michelle Kelly, PhD, CRNP, CNE, recently commented on the new guidelines:

  • "The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in response to birth provider and parent input, took a critical look at existing developmental milestones tools and handouts. Surveillance and handouts are typically parent facing items that can be used to determine if a child is meeting age-expected developmental targets."

  • "That is in contrast to screening which is more structured, based on the surveillance but done by a primary care provider and used for referral for services, and evaluation which is done by a developmental specialist with the intent to diagnosis."

  • "The CDC and AAP have done a thorough overhaul of developmental milestone surveillance (as opposed to screening and evaluation) to attempt to make the milestones 'evidence-based' and where possible norm-referenced."

  • "Another major change is that the milestones are set for greater than 75%, rather than 50%. This means they are targets that 75% of children that age would have met. This eliminates phrases in the previous milestones that were confusing, such as a child 'may begin' a task at one age, but also should be doing it at the next age."

  • "Perhaps the biggest win for children born preterm and others at risk for developmental delays is the 75% expectation virtually eliminates the 'wait and see' that occurred when the expectation was that 50% of children would exhibit a skill at that age. This means that families who have concerns, or whose children are not meeting the age-appropriate milestones, should be more readily referred for evaluation and intervention."

  • "Additionally, an increased emphasis is placed, compared to the previous version, on open-ended questions to elicit parent concerns and ways for families to promote age-appropriate development."

Connect with:
  • Michelle Kelly, PhD
    Michelle Kelly, PhD Associate Professor | M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing

    Michelle Kelly, PhD, CRNP, is an expert in children's health, neonatal intensive care, and long-term health effects of premature birth.

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