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Doctor listening to little boy's heart.

Well-Child Visits: Detecting Developmental Delays Early

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Lillian Nalwoga
Published Date: Thursday, April 21, 2022

By Dr. Lillian Nalwoga, General Academic Pediatrics

Since the pandemic began in 2020, some parents have delayed taking their young children to the doctor for their well-child visits. Unfortunately, skipping these important visits may make it harder to help a child with developmental delay.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in six children in the U.S. have one or more developmental or behavioral disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), learning disability, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Developmental disabilities may affect how a child plays, learns, behaves, speaks, and moves. These conditions begin during the early developmental period and can impact a child’s day-to-day functioning.

Early identification and intervention are key to helping children who have developmental delays. Developmental surveillance is done during all well-child visits, allowing pediatricians to keep track of a child’s development by noting the skills and milestones they’ve reached. Smiling for the first time, waving “bye-bye,” taking that first step and using words to communicate are some of the important milestones.

If you’re worried about your child’s development, it’s important to discuss your concerns with your child’s pediatrician.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a specific schedule for developmental screenings, these screenings can be done whenever a parent, guardian, or pediatrician is worried. Developmental screenings usually occur at 9 months, 18 months, and 24 or 30 months. In addition to regular developmental screening, all children should be screened for ASD at their 18- and 24-month well-child visits.

Remember, screenings do not provide a diagnosis. Screenings help identify children who are at risk for having developmental disabilities and who require further evaluation. A child can screen positive for ASD but, after further evaluation by an experienced professional, may not be diagnosed with ASD.

Learn more about speech and language milestones for children ages birth to 5 years.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.