Supporting Research

Welcome to our research pages! Within we provide abstracts of current studies with commentary, and guidance for researchers working on new projects. We also include a comparison of commonly used tools based on costs, practice expense/benefits, psychometric foundations, etc.

After reading through these pages, if you have a study to share or need to discuss a project please contact us. For research projects we encourage you to use PEDS Online® because its scoring is accurate and automated, the site includes PEDS®, PEDS®:Developmental Milestones, and the Modified Checklist of Autism in Toddlers, provides referral letters when needed, parent take-home summary reports, and generates an exportable database of results that can be concatenated with other measures/study protocols. We can also license digital copies of our measures as needed.

Dr. Glascoe and her colleagues have done a great deal of research on PEDS® and its accuracy. Below you’ll find links to some of the articles.

Jun 22, 2023

Intelligence and achievement of children referred following sexual abuse.

JJones DA, Trudinger P, Crawford M.
Child Protection Unit, Mater Children's Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Published In: Paediatric Child Health, 2004 Aug;40 (8):455-60

OBJECTIVE: Little is known about the prevalence of intellectual and academic problems in sexually abused children. Such problems may have significant implications for their management. This study examined the prevalence of such problems in a population of Australian children referred for sexual abuse evaluation. The study also assessed the clinical utility of the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®) questionnaire as a screening tool for learning and developmental problems in this population.

METHODS: Over a 12-month period, children referred for sexual abuse evaluation to the Mater Children’s Hospital Child Protection Unit were enrolled and background demographic and abuse related data collected. Parents, many of whom were the suspected perpetrators, completed PEDS® and the Child Behavior Checklists (CBCL). Day care providers and schoolteachers completed the corresponding Caregiver or Teacher Report Forms (TRF).

RESULTS: A total of 21 of the 35 eligible children completed all study measures. Mean scores for intelligence and academic achievement were within the average range. However, three (14%) of the tested children were intellectually impaired and three (14%) showed academic underachievement. Sixty-two per cent of children had problems in the clinical range on the CBCL and 33% on the TRF. The PEDS® showed a sensitivity of 64%, specificity of 60% with a positive predictive value of 77%.

CONCLUSION: In this population of referred children, over one quarter showed problems with intellectual impairment or academic under achievement. Most of these children were not receiving learning support at school. A high index of suspicion is therefore required when assessing sexually abused children for comorbid intellectual and learning problems.

Comment from Dr. Glascoe: This is certainly lower sensitivity and specificity than I’d like to see but the study makes an important case for having other informants (e.g., foster parents) answer PEDS® questions. Parents facing legal action are understandably likely to be defensive and thus less than forthcoming. An alternative is to use a skill-focused measure such as PEDS®:Developmental Milestones, preferably via a hands-on professional administration.

Jun 22, 2023

Can parents’ concerns identify children likely to have autism-spectrum disorder?

Glascoe FP, Macias M, Wegner LM., Robertshaw RS

Background: The American Academy of Neurology together with other professional societies recommend the use of a broad-band developmental screen to be followed, if results are problematic, by an autism-specific screen. Given that only 30% of health care providers use a broad-band screen, let alone a secondstage narrow-band one, and that most rely instead on informal methods, a reasonable research question is whether parents’ concerns alone can detect children who need to be seen by an autism specialist.

Method: Links from various autism focused sites and from ad words on search engines, lead parents to, a site that interfaces with electronic health records but is also offered directly to families for a small fee. The site provides for children between 18 and 60 months, two online screens: Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®), a ten item tool eliciting parents’ concerns across each developmental domains, and the Modified Checklist of Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT). Parents were provided a privacy policy notice that included consent to use anonymized results in research studies.

Results: Of 593 individuals who engaged the website from January, 2005 to January 2006, 135 (22.8%) did not fully complete both measures and were excluded from analysis. Of the remaining 458, 302 were mothers (65.9%), 32 were fathers (7%), 22 were grand- or foster-parents (4.8%), 22 were relatives/friends/teachers (4.8%) and 80 (17.8%) did not disclose their relationship. When compared to US Census Bureau data, respondents (who disclosed this information) were highly educated; 208 (61.5%) held college degrees and were disproportionately white; 292 (77.7%). Of their target children, the mean age was 34.7 months (sd = 11.39) and 302 (69%) were boys. On the M-CHAT, 289 children had failing scores (63.1%) while 169 (36.9%) passed. On PEDS®, 427 (93.2%) received high or moderate risk scores (indicating the need for additional assessment or screening). At-risk PEDS® scores identified 98% (283/289) of MCHAT failures but low-risk PEDS® scores were only 15% specific (25/169) to M-CHAT passes. Thus PEDS® alone would have resulted in excessive over-referrals to autism specialists. To discern whether unique constellations of parental concerns offered more parsimonious referral decisions, logistic regression was deployed to predict M-CHAT performance from the 10 kinds of concerns onPEDS. Because children’s ages are associated with different kinds of concerns (parents of older children tend to have more worries about expressive language and school performance), two regression analyses were run: one on children between 18 and 35 months of age, and a second on children 36 to 59 months of age.

In the youngest age group (N = 249), five types of concerns were associated with M-CHAT performance: behavior (OR = 2.9, CI = 2.10 – 3.97), fine motor (OR = 4.2, CI = 2.11 – 8.20), gross motor (OR = 4.4, CI = 1.23 – 8.68), receptive language (OR = 3.4, CI = 2.28 – 5.05), and social-emotional skills (OR = 2.4, CI = 1.71 – 3.39). The presence of three or more of these predictive concerns identified 131 of the 168 MCHAT failures (sensitivity = 78%) while fewer than three such concerns, identified 61 of the 81 M-CHAT passes (specificity = 75%). In the older age group (N = 209) concerns identified by logistic regression included receptive language (OR = 2.3, CI = 1.69 – 3.12), school performance (OR = 2.1, CI = 1.50 – 3.04), social-emotional (OR = 1.9, CI = 1.42 – 2.56), and expressive language concerns (OR = 2.0, CI = 1.48 – 2.63). The presence of three or more such concerns identified 81% of M-CHAT failures (98/121) while fewer than three was 70% specific to M-CHAT passes (62/88). When comparing respondents whose concerns accurately predicted M-CHAT results to those whose concerns did not, there were no differences on any demographic variable: child’s gender, language spoken at home, prior diagnosis, race, relationship to the child, child’s age or respondent’s level of education.

Conclusions: The results reinforce the value of carefully eliciting parents’ concerns because these provide a reasonable indicator of the probable presence or absence of autism spectrum disorder. Replication is needed on a more typical pediatric sample and preferably with diagnostic measures of autism in order to confirm the generalizability and validity of the findings. If confirmed, it may be advisable to modify the PEDS® scoring paradigm so that it optimally identifies children with and without features of ASD. Nevertheless, adherence to the American Academy of Neurology recommendations for broad-band screening followed by an autism-specific tool yields far greater accuracy in determining the need for referral to an autism specialist.

Jun 22, 2023

Comparison of a General Developmental Screening Tool and an Autism Specific Screening Tool in Autistic Spectrum Disorder (Asd) Assessment

Young L, Pinto-Martin J, Warszawa A, Giarelli E, Levy S.
Published In: Clinical Pediatrics, 2007; 46: 801 - 805.

Purpose/Background: The increasing prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) has generated increased interest in identifying children with ASD at a young age. There is much discussion in the literature regarding best practices for screening and early identification. Some argue that at a young age, a general developmental screening tool at a first level (and then autism specific screening if the child fails) is as effective as using an ASD-specific tool at selected intervals to screen all young children.

Objective: Determine the utility of using a general developmental screening tool compared to an autism specific tool when screening for ASD.

Methods: An ongoing study to improve Developmental Delay (DD) and ASD screening practices in an urban pediatric primary care practice is underway. Data has been collected on the use and results of a standardized general developmental screening tool, the PEDS® (Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status) and an autism-specific screening tool, the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) in children ages 15 to 30 months. Assessments are complete for 66 children (55% male, mean age 23 months, 41% African American, 30% Caucasian, 15% Biracial, 14% Asian). The sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value of the PEDS® compared to the M-CHAT in identifying young children at risk for ASD was computed. While the sensitivity of the PEDS® compared to the M-CHAT was 77.8%, the specificity was only 26.3% and the positive predictive value was just 14.3%.

Results: Preliminary analysis indicates that in this urban pediatric population the PEDS® as a first line screen is not a good substitute for the MCHAT when screening for ASD, as children who screen negative for general developmental concerns may score positive on the M-CHAT.

Conclusions: Specific red flag items for autism, included in ASDspecific screening tools, may not be adequately examined in a this specific general developmental screening tool. These findings should be replicated in a larger population with greater ethnic diversity. Sponsor: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Comment from Dr. Glascoe: The results of both papers show that the majority of children who fail the M-CHAT also receive moderate or at-risk scores on PEDS®. But problematic PEDS® results alone do little to identify which children need referrals to autism specialists, because PEDS®, like any other quality broad-band screening tool is also designed to identify other problems such as language impairment, learning disabilities, and mental retardation.

In my paper, patterns of concerns helped identify which children were likely to need referring to an autism specialist (and the latest print run of the PEDS® Brief Guide includes this information and guidance). That said, it is clear from both papers that we can do better at early detection of autism spectrum disorders if we routinely use a measure like the M-CHAT. Indeed, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending administration of an ASD screen at 18 and 14 months. Although this is wise, it is critical for those involved in early detection to note that measures like the M-CHAT do not identify with much regularity, the more common disabilities of childhood. So both a broad-band screen and an ASD specific one should be deployed at these an other visits, and otherwise, an ASD screen should be administered whenever PEDS® results fall into moderate to high risk categories.

Jun 22, 2023

PEDS in the Australian day-care setting: Developmental concerns of parents and carers

Coghlan D, Kiing JS, Wake M J
Research & Public Health Unit, Centre for Community, Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Published In: Paediatric Child Health, 2003 Jan-Feb; 39(1):49-54

OBJECTIVE: To trial the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®) as an instrument for reporting developmental concerns for Australian preschool children.

METHOD: A cross-sectional survey of parents and carers of 262 children attending five day-care centres and two kindergartens in Melbourne was conducted between October and November 1999. Parents and carers completed the written PEDS® questionnaire, comprising 10 questions eliciting concerns about learning, development and behaviour, and answered questions about the acceptability and use of the PEDS®. RESULTS: Of 445 children, 389 were eligible for inclusion. Complete parent and carer PEDS® data were available for 262 children (67% response: 47% boys; 53% girls) aged from 18 months to 5 years, 9 months. Most parents found the PEDS® questionnaire easy to complete (98%) and likely to be useful to health professionals (89%). Twenty-four children (9%) were classified as being at high-risk of disabilities and 49 (19%) were classified as being at medium-risk of disabilities. Parents of 125 children (48%) reported no concerns. The prevalence of parental concerns was similar to the USA norming sample. Carers reported similar prevalences of concerns. Although overall agreement was high, parent/carer kappa-values were modest, being highest for the gross motor (kappa = 0.40) and social-emotional (kappa = 0.37) domains.

CONCLUSIONS: The PEDS® is acceptable to parents of Australian preschool children, with a prevalence of significant concerns (i.e. children at highand medium-risk of developmental problems) that is similar to those in the USA. Further research is needed to assess what factors differentially influence whether a concern is felt in a particular domain for a particular child.

Related Files:
Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status in the Australian day-care setting: developmental concerns of parents and carers

Jun 22, 2023

The use of the Filipino Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS) Among Children aged 0-8 years old.

Joy Ann C. Oreto, Jacqueline O. Navarro, Lourdes Bernadette S
Tanchanco. Department of Pediatrics, The Medical City Hospital, Pasig City, Philippines.

Objective: To elicit the developmental concerns of parents of children aged 0-8 years using the Filipino Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®) questionnaire.

Design: Cross-sectional study

Method: The first phase was questionnaire development. The second phase was validation and administration of the questionnaire to parents of children 0-8 years seeking consult in two local health centers in urban cities. Parents were asked to accomplish the Filipino PEDS® questionnaire.

Results: The Filipino PEDS® questionnaire underwent several revisions until the most acceptable version was obtained. A total of 318 respondents were included with a mean age of 4.5 years. The majority of respondents were mothers (82.7%), high school graduates, married with 1-2 children. Among the respondents’ children, 48 (15%) were classified as Path A (high risk), 54 (17%) were classified as Path B (moderate risk), 64 (20%) were classified as Path C (low risk) and 152 (48%) were classified as Path E (no concerns). Majority (41.5%) had concerns about their child’s behavior. About 97% of the respondents found the PEDS® easy to use and 96% found it helpful. In testing for reliability, a Cronbach’s alpha value of 0.8 was obtained.

Conclusions: The Filipino PEDS® is a valid and reliable screening tool in eliciting parental concerns. The frequency of concerns in this study is similar to those of the studies done locally and abroad.

Jun 22, 2023

Use of Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS) Questionnaire Among Pre-School Children aged 2-5 years old: Developmental Concerns of Parents and Teachers, Fall 2008

R Matibag, J Navarro
Department of Pediatrics, The Medical City, Pasig City, Manila, Philippines

Objective: To elicit parental and teacher concerns about development and behavior among preschool children aged 2-5 years old using the Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®) questionnaire and assessing its acceptability.

Method: A cross sectional survey of parents and preschool teachers of children from nine preschools around the Medical City was conducted from June to October 2006. Parents and teachers accomplished the PEDS® composed of 10 questions reflecting different developmental concerns. Parents were asked about ease of use and helpfulness of the PEDS®. Risks for possible developmental problems based on the PEDS® guidelines were determined. Parent and preschool teacher ratings were compared.

Results: A total of 283 parents of preschool students answered the PEDS®. The mean age of the children was 4.43 years old. Majority were females (65%). The one accomplished by parents showed 15% had high risk for developmental disabilities and require further evaluation. The teachers’ response was similar (14%) although only 97 children were assessed by the teachers. Majority of concerns of parents and teachers were regarding behavior (37%) followed by concerns with expressive language. Kappa values for parents and teachers rating the same child were highest for expressive language and lowest for fine motor development. Percent agreement for responses was highest for gross motor, self help and other concerns. Majority of respondents (94%) found the PEDS® very easy or easy to use with average completion time of 8.83 minutes. Majority (95%) agreed that it was useful as a screening tool.

Conclusions: The study showed the similarities of concerns about childhood development and behavior among different settings. This study also shows the perceived ease of use and applicability of using the PEDS® questionnaire as a screening tool for developmental and behavior problem.

Jun 22, 2023

Role of Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status in detecting developmental delay in young children

Prahbhjot Malhi, Pratibha Singhi
Published In: Indian Pediatrics, 2002; 39:271-275

The importance of early identification of children with developmental delay has emerged in recent years as a matter of growing concern among pediatricians(1-3). There is, however, no consensus as to how such early identification can be optimally performed. Some of the commonly used techniques include reviewing developmental milestones with parents, relying on clinical judgement based on history, physical examination and observation(4,5). However, physicians subjective impressions and their estimates of children’s developmental status is often inaccurate(6).

Research reveals almost half of the children with developmental disabilities are not identified by their pediatricians(7). Research over the last several decades has endeavoured to identify the most appropriate and cost effective method for early detection of children with developmental problems(8). One screening method developed in recent years elicits parents’ concerns regarding children’s development status(9). A study has documented that parents who expressed concerns about speech, language, fine motor or cognitive skills had children with an 80% chance of failing standardized developmental screening(10). On the other hand, parents who felt that their children were developing normally or who had concerns only about behavior, self help or socio-emotional development had children with a 94% chance of passing screening. The importance of parents concerns about their children’s development is unknown in our country, although it has been found to be a useful clinical tool in the West(11). In the Indian context an important question is whether a developmental concern reflects a child’s true deviation or does it simply reveal parental anxiety? Moreover, does not expressing a concern mean that the child is developing normally or does it reveal that the Indian parents are not well informed about normal development or that they are hesitant to discuss non-medical concerns with the physicians?

Keeping this in view, the present study aimed at: (i) identifying the range of concerns parents have about their child’s development; and (ii) evaluating the relationship between parents concerns and the child’s develop-mental status.

Related Files
Role of Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status in Detecting Developmental Delay in Young Children

Jun 22, 2023

National Project Implementing Developmental Screening and Referrals

King TM, Tandon SD, Macias MM, Healy JA, Duncan PM, Swigonski NL, Skipper SM, Lipkin PH.
Published In: Pediatrics, 2010; 125: 350-360

OBJECTIVES To assess the degree to which a national sample of pediatric practices could implement American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations for developmental screening and referrals, and to identify factors that contributed to the successes and shortcomings of these efforts.

BACKGROUND In 2006, the AAP released a policy statement on developmental surveillance and screening that included an algorithm to aid practices in implementation. Simultaneously, the AAP launched a 9-month pilot project in which 17 diverse practices sought to implement the policy statement’s recommendations.

METHODS Quantitative data from chart reviews were used to calculate rates of screening and referral. Qualitative data on practices’ implementation efforts were collected through semi-structured telephone interviews and inductively analyzed to generate key themes.

RESULTS Nearly all practices selected parent-completed screening instruments, and half chose PEDS®. Instrument selection was frequently driven by concerns regarding clinic flow. At the project’s conclusion, practices reported screening more than 85% of patients presenting at recommended screening ages. They achieved this by dividing responsibilities among staff and actively monitoring implementation. Despite these efforts, many practices struggled during busy periods and times of staff turnover. Most practices were unable or unwilling to adhere to 3 specific AAP recommendations: to implement a 30-month visit; to administer a screen after surveillance suggested concern; and to submit simultaneous referrals both to medical subspecialists and local early-intervention programs. Overall, practices reported referring only 61% of children with failed screens. Many practices also struggled to track their referrals. Those that did found that many families did not follow through with recommended referrals.

CONCLUSIONS A diverse sample of practices successfully implemented developmental screening as recommended by the AAP. Practices were less successful in placing referrals and tracking those referrals. More attention needs to be paid to the referral process, and many practices may require separate implementation systems for screening and referrals.

Comment by Dr. Glascoe: Implementing quality screens in primary care is a challenge. But referral coordination with non-medical services is even more problematic in terms of actually getting a child with apparent problems to services. Both medical and non-medical providers need to collaborate in making this process easier for families. Non-medical providers, in particular, need to provide health care clinicians feedback about outcomes (e.g., when a referral is received, when appointments are scheduled, AND send the results to providers). When children don’t qualify for IDEA, clinics need to know so they can refer to Head Start or other services, i.e., most non-qualifying children remain at risk and careful monitoring of progress is essential.

Jun 22, 2023

Chapter 14 Developmental/Behavioral Screening, Frances P. Glascoe

Frances P. Glascoe, Phd

Sep 23, 2021

Use of PEDS:Developmental Milestones® (to Identify Children at Risk for Social-Emotional/Behavioral Health Problems

Frances Page Glascoe, PhD

Many US State-wide screening initiatives (e.g., TN AAP, Iowa DoE) focus on detecting social-emotional/behavioral health problems (SEBH). Many health care providers and other professionals use broad-band screens for early identification, particularly measures focused on children’s skills/milestones. For SEBH-focused initiatives, should professionals view all domains of development or just SEBH risk? The goals of this study are to: a) Determine SEBH risk rates on PEDS®: Developmental Milestones(PEDS:DM®); b) Identify whether developmental delays are associated with SEBH risk; and c) Evaluate family psychosocial risk factors correlated with SEBH risk. The results should assist professionals with decisions about types of further assessment and interventions.

Sep 14, 2021

What Else to Look For: Characteristics of Children at Risk for Social-Emotional/Behavioral Health Problems

Frances Page Glascoe, PhD

Many US State-side screening initiatives (e.g., TN AAP, Iowa DoE) focus on detecting social-emotional/behavioral health problems (SEBH). While a worthy goal, interening with children at risk for social-emotional/behavioral health problems (SEBH) may require a thoughtful view of overall development. Symptoms of SEBH (e.g., emotional distress, acting out) may be due to communication or motor deficits (e.g., when children do not understand what they are asked to do; if frustrated by difficulties expressing themselves; in the presence of motor delays that make it hard to execute self-help or academic tasks). Family psychosocial risk factors may also contribute to SEBH problelms. The goals of this study are to identify child and family characteristics associated with SEBH and to assist professionals in assessment, referral, and intervention decisions.

May 21, 2020

Improving Access to Early Childhood Developmental Surveillance for Children from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Background

Karen Edwards, Tania Rimes, Rebecca Smith, Ritin Fernandez, Lisa Stephenson, Jane Son, Vanessa Sarkozy, Deborah Perkins, Valsamma Eapen, Sue Woolfenden
Published In: International Journal of Integrated Care, 2020 20(2): 3, 1–7, Summer 2015

Introduction: Developmental vulnerabilities in pre-school aged children from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds with low English proficiency are less likely to be identified through universal developmental surveillance. Barriers include low parental health literacy and low rates of attendance to mainstream child and family health services. Late detection of developmental vulnerabilities can have lifelong impacts on life trajectory.

Method: Integrated outreach early childhood developmental surveillance was trialled in South East Sydney by local health services with non-government organisations (NGO) delivering early childhood education and support. NGO staff were trained in Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®), a validated developmental screening tool to explore parental/carer and provider concerns [1]. Families with children identified with developmental concerns by NGO staff were referred to co-located or visiting Child and Family Health Nurses (CFHN), community child health, speech pathology or developmental services for developmental screening, assessment and/or care planning.

Results: Integrated health and NGO services improved access to developmental surveillance for CALD families in a non-threatening environment enabled by co-locating CFHN, or through visits by paediatric medical/speech pathology staff to participating playgroups.

Conclusions and discussion: Integration supported vulnerable families from CALD backgrounds to access developmental surveillance through child and family health services but required flexibility and adjustments by all involved.

Apr 05, 2020

Validity and Reliability Determination of Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS) in 4-60 Months old Children in Tehran

Soheila Shahshahani, Roshanak Vameghi, F. Sajedi, Akbar Biglarian
Published In: Iranian Rehabilitation Journal, 13(2):75-80, Summer 2015

Objectives: There are various developmental screening tools that are different in terms of psychometric characteristics and choosing the best one is challenging for the pediatrician. This research was designed to identify the validity and reliability of Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status, a developmental screening questionnaire, in 4-60 months-old children in the city of Tehran.

Methods: In order to validate the Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status, a precise translation of the questionnaire was performed by the research team. A Persian version was back-translated by three English language experts who were unfamiliar with the Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status. The back-translated version was compared with the original version. The content validity of the finalized Persian version was verified by three pediatricians. The questionnaire was performed on 648 children ranging from 4 to 60 months old in healthcare clinics. A test-retest method with 2-3 weeks interval and Cronbach’s & alpha were used in order to determine the reliability of the questionnaire.

Results: All of the questions in Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status had desirable content validity and there was no need to change them. The total Cronbach’s &alpha coefficient was 0.63, which, when considering the low number of items in Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status, is acceptable. The test-retest correlation coefficient was determined to be 0.87, which is desirable. The estimated Kappa measure agreement between Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status and Ages and Stages Questionnaires was 0.30. Due to the rather large sample size and similarity of the screening results by both questionnaires in 71.5% of cases, it is possible to conclude that this measure is an acceptable one.

Discussion: This research showed that Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status has a good content validity and reliability and can be used for developmental screening of children in Tehran city. Because the test is brief, using it can lead to saving time and resources.

Dec 11, 2019

Parental perception of developmental vulnerability after inter-country adoption: A 10-year follow-up study: Longitudinal study after inter-country adoption

Gary Diamond, Yahuda Senecky, Hadar Reichman, D. Inbar
Published In: International Journal on Disability and Human Development, 14(1):75-80, February 2015

The main goal of this research was to describe the type and level of parents’ concerns about child development and behaviour according to the PEDS® test (Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status). The sample included 289 parents of children from three to seven years of age, from two preschool institutions in Serbia. A significantly high correlation was determined between parents’ general concerns and expressed concerns with regard to behaviour (χ2 = 17.86, df = 2, p < .001) and getting along with others (χ2 = 22.57, df = 2, p < .000). A marginally significant correlation was determined between parents’ general concerns and manifested concerns with regard to fine motor skills (χ2 = 5.90, df = 2, p = .052), as well as expressive language (χ2 = 5.858, df = 2, p = .053). According to the criteria of PEDS® test, this research identified 56.4% of children whose development needed to be monitored, 27.7% of children who needed to be referred for detailed diagnostic procedures, and 1.7% who needed to be included in treatment or special education support.

Apr 08, 2019

Early identification of children with developmental delay and behavioural problems according to parents concerns in the Republic of Serbia

Snežana B. Ilić, Snežana J. Nikolić, Danijela D., Ilić-Stošović, Špela S. Golubović
Published In: Early Child Development and Care, Received 01 Feb 2019, Accepted 12 Mar 2019, Published online: 03 Apr 2019

The main goal of this research was to describe the type and level of parents’ concerns about child development and behaviour according to the PEDS® test (Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status). The sample included 289 parents of children from three to seven years of age, from two preschool institutions in Serbia. A significantly high correlation was determined between parents’ general concerns and expressed concerns with regard to behaviour (χ2 = 17.86, df = 2, p < .001) and getting along with others (χ2 = 22.57, df = 2, p < .000). A marginally significant correlation was determined between parents’ general concerns and manifested concerns with regard to fine motor skills (χ2 = 5.90, df = 2, p = .052), as well as expressive language (χ2 = 5.858, df = 2, p = .053). According to the criteria of PEDS® test, this research identified 56.4% of children whose development needed to be monitored, 27.7% of children who needed to be referred for detailed diagnostic procedures, and 1.7% who needed to be included in treatment or special education support.

Oct 18, 2016

Developmental Screening—Evaluation of an m-Health Version of the Parents Evaluation Developmental Status Tools

Boledi K. Maleka, BComm Path, Jeannie Van Der Linde, PhD, Frances Page Glascoe, PhD, De Wet Swanepoel, PhD

Background: Developmental delays are more prevalent in low-income countries and access to developmental screening is severely limited. Introduction: This study evaluated an m-Health version of a standard developmental screening tool, Parents Evaluation Developmental Status (PEDS®) and PEDS®: Developmental Milestones (PEDS:DM®) for use by community health workers (CHWs) in terms of

  1. correspondence with conventional paper-based testing by a speech language pathologist (SLP) and
  2. interrater reliability compared to an SLP.

Method: CHWs were trained in a primary healthcare (PHC) setting to administer the newly developed smartphone application version of the PEDS® tools. One SLP and two CHWs recruited 207 caregivers who were attending a baby wellness clinic. Caregivers were tested by one CHW using the smartphone application of the PEDS® tools; a qualified SLP simultaneously recorded and scored the PEDS® tools on the same participants. Results: High positive (100%) and nega- tive correspondence (96%) was found between the paper- based PEDS® tools and the smartphone application PEDS® tools and between the SLP and CHW. Almost perfect (Cohen’s Kappa) inter-rater agreement between conditions was dem- onstrated (j = 0.873 to j = 0.961).

Conclusions: Outcomes of the smartphone application, operated by a CHW, corre- sponded closely to the gold standard PEDS® tools operated by a health professional. Trained CHWs can conduct accurate developmental screening using the smartphone version of the PEDS® tools.

Sep 18, 2016

Delayed Child Development in Rural Ghana: A Baseline Evaluation

Julius Weng 1,2, Sonia Rego 2, Sarah Gustafson 2,3, Frances Glascoe 4, Diana Rickard 2,3
1 David Geffin School of Medicine at UCLA, 2 Ghana Health and Education Initiative, 3 Department of Pediatrics at UCLA, 4 Vanderbilt University


  • Cognitive stimulation during the first five years of life is critical for proper childhood development.
  • Prior community evaluations in rural Ghana have demonstrated that children in the Bibiani-AnhwiasoBekwai (BAB) district receive inadequate cognitive simulation.


  • To characterize baseline child development in the BAB district.
  • To obtain formative data for developing a mentorship program for first-time mothers and their children.
Sep 18, 2016

Developmental Screening of Refugees: A Qualitative Study

Abigail L.H. Kroening, MD, Jessica A. Moore, PhD, Therese R. Welch, PhD, Jill S. Halterman, MD, MPH, Susan L. Hyman, MD

By 2014, 59.5 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced from their homes and living as refugees or stateless people. Over 50% of these individuals were children.

  1. Of the nearly 70 000 refugees annually resettled to the United States, ∼30% are children.
  2. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that refugee and resettlement experiences may impact critical stages of intellectual, social, emotional, and physical child development.
  3. Disruption to families and education and witnessed traumatic events impact the presentation of development concerns.
Sep 30, 2015

Celebrating Young Indigenous Australian Children

Sharynne McLeod, Sarah Verdon, Laura Bennetts Kneebone

World-wide it is important to recognize Indigenous children’s speech and language competence and their language learning environments. Indigenous Australian children participated in the child cohort of Footprints in Time: Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children, a national study supported by Indigenous Australians and the Australian Government collected annually (in waves). There were 692 3–5-year-old children in wave 1, and two years later, 570 5–7-year-old children were in wave 3 (77.0% of children in wave 1 were also in wave 3). Data were obtained via parent interviews and direct assessment. The children spoke between one and eight languages including: English (wave 1: 91.2%, wave 3: 99.6%), Indigenous languages (wave 1: 24.4%, wave 3: 26.8%), creoles (wave 1: 11.5%, wave 3: 13.7%), foreign languages (non-Indigenous languages other than English) (wave 1: 2.0%, wave 3: 5.1%), and sign languages (wave 1: 0.6%, wave 3: 0.4%). Children who spoke an Indigenous language were more likely to live in moderate to extreme isolation than their English-speaking counterparts. Parental concern about speech and language skills was similar to data for non-Indigenous children with approximately one quarter of parents expressing concern (wave 1: yes = 13.9%, a little = 10.4%). Children’s language environments were rich, with many family members and friends telling oral stories, reading books, and listening to the children read. Almost a third of families wanted to pass on their cultural language, and many indicated that they would like their child to learn an Indigenous language at school. Overall, Indigenous Australian children have rich cultural and linguistic traditions and their speech and language competence is promoted through family, community, and educational experiences.

Sep 28, 2015

Multilingualism and speech-language competence in early childhood: Impact on academic and social-emotional outcomes at school

Linda J. Harrison, Sharynne McLeod, Chrystal Whiteford, Sue Walker

This large-scale longitudinal population study provided a rare opportunity to consider the interface between multilingualism and speech-language competence on children’s academic and social-emotional outcomes and to determine whether differences between groups at 4–5 years persist, deepen, or disappear with time and schooling. Four distinct groups were identified from the Kindergarten cohort of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC)

  1. English-only + typical speech and language (n = 2012);
  2. multilingual + typical speech and language (n = 476);
  3. English-only + speech and language concern (n = 643); and
  4. multilingual + speech and language concern (n = 109).

Two analytic approaches were used to compare these groups. First, a matched case-control design was used to randomly match multilingual children with speech and language concern (group 4, n = 109) to children in groups 1–3 on gender, age, and family socio-economic position in a cross-sectional comparison of vocabulary, school readiness, and behavioral adjustment. Next, analyses were applied to the whole sample to determine longitudinal effects of group membership on teachers’ ratings of literacy, numeracy, and behavioral adjustment at ages 6–7 and 8–9 years. At 4–5 years, multilingual children with speech and language concern did equally well or better than English-only children (with or without speech and language concern) on school readiness tests but performed more poorly on measures of English vocabulary and behavior. At ages 6–7 and 8–9, the early gap between English-only and multilingual children had closed. Multilingualism was not found to contribute to differences in literacy and numeracy outcomes at school; instead, outcomes were more related to concerns about children’s speech and language in early childhood. There were no group differences for socio-emotional outcomes. Early evidence for the combined risks of multilingualism plus speech and language concern was not upheld into the school years.

Aug 12, 2015

SDBP Plenary Sessions: Parent Developmental Concerns, Provider Response to Conerns, and Delays in Diagnosis for Children with Austism and Other Developmental Disorders

Katharine E. Zuckerman, MD, MPH, Olivia Lindly, MPH, Brianna Sinche, MPH, Christina Bethell, PhD, MBA, MPH
Pediatrics, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR

To assess whether age of initial parent developmental concern differs between children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) vs other developmental conditions, and to assess whether provider response to initial parent concerns is associated with earlier diagnosis.

Feb 08, 2015

The 211LA Developmental Screening and Care Coordination Program

Digby Diehl
Published In: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Anthology, Volume XVI, Fall, 2014

211 is a national telephone helpline focused on non-medical emergencies, i.e., addressing the challenges of people with unstable housing, food insufficiency, lack of money to pay for utilities or health care, etc. With help from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 211LA added a screening and referral service for young children with autism and other developmental disabilities. After addressing the immediate issues raised by callers, 211LA staff asked parents if they would also like to discuss and assess their children’s development and behavior. Almost all parents were interested. Since its beginning in September 2009, the program has screened nearly eight thousand children under the age of five; nearly half were found to be at moderate to high risk of a development delay—rate much greater than found in general pediatric samples including low-income, Medicaid eligible families. 211LA’s referral coordination efforts (e.g., live call transfers to early intervention providers) ensures that this vulnerable population actually received services: 211LA’s families are ~ twice as likely to be enrolled in early intervention than are families screened in primary care. Thus 211LA serves as a national and replicable model for detecting and addressing the needs of high risk families and for supporting early identification efforts in primary care.This link provides more information on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations efforts with 211LA and contact information for the program.

Oct 10, 2014

A systematic review of the prevalence of parental concerns measured by the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS) indicating developmental risk.

Woolfenden S., Eapen V., Williams K., Hayen A., Spencer N., Kemp L.
Published In: BMC Pediatrics, 2014 14:231

This meta-analysis of 37 PEDS® studies included a total of 210,242 children/parents. The studies were conducted in the US, Canada, Australia, Thailand, The Philippines, Indonesia, Spain, India and Tanzania. Dr. Woolfenden and colleagues found that parental concerns indicating high developmental risk were associated with multiple risk factors: male gender, low birth weight, poor/fair child health rating, poor maternal mental health, lower socioeconomic status (SES), minority ethnicity, not being read to, a lack of access to health care and not having health insurance. Thus PEDS® ensures both developmental-behavioral screening plus psychosocial risk assessment, i.e., surveillance. The authors conclude, “given [that] the prevalence of parental concerns increased with biological and psychosocial adversity, the service response needs to be one of proportionate universalism where the greater the disadvantage, the more services available.”

Aug 14, 2014

Evidence-Based Early Detection of Developmental-Behavioral Problems in Primary Care: What to Expect and How to Do It

Frances P. Glascoe, Phd
Published In: Journal of Pediatric Healthcare, 2014; 28 (5)

The goals of this study are to (a) inform clinicians embarking on evidence-based screening initiatives about what to expect when using quality tools, including provision of information on identification rates by age, patient mix, and well-visit uptake, and (b) describe the various implementation methods used by other clinics. Participants were professionals in 79 clinics across 20 U.S. states and elsewhere in North America, collectively serving 20,941 families via a Web-based screening ervice, PEDS Online®, which offers developmental-behavioral/mental health and autism screens with automated scoring, report writing, and a mineable database. Problematic screening results were found in more than 1 out of 5 children, and rates of screening test failures increased with children’s ages. Children screened outside the well-child visit schedule were more likely to have screening test failures. Personnel at 22 of the 79 clinics were either interviewed or observed in person to identify implementation strategies. Clinics, even those serving families with limited education or lack of facility with English, found a variety of ways to make use of online screening services.

Jun 19, 2013

Pediatric Response to Court-Mandated Medicaid Behavioral Screening in Massachusetts.

Jeanne Van Cleave, MD, Dianali Rivera Morales, MS, James M. Perrin, MD
Published In: Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 2013; 34:335-343

Drs. Cleave et al viewed the impact of the 2007 Mass Medicaid’s requirement for use of quality screening tools in primary care in order to best identify children with developmental-behavioral/mental health problems. Providers were motivated to comply with the mandate and most practices reported implementing screens routinely, whether for Medicaid patients or not, i.e., practices found it easiest to establish a consistent process across well-visits regardless of insurance). PEDS® together with the M-CHAT were the most commonly selected measures due to their brevity and numerous translations (both are included in PEDS Online®). The authors conclude that mandates are an effective way to improve evidence-based practice but that: a) physician champions are needed to promote solutions to implementation; and b) referral coordination and service capacity building are needed to make sure that children identified by screens receive intervention.

Sep 16, 2012

How Early Do Parent Concerns Predict Later Autism Diagnosis?

Ozonoff, Sally PhD, Young, Gregory S. PhD, Steinfeld, Mary Beth MD, Hill, Monique M. MS, Cook, Ian PhD, Hutman, Ted PhD, Macari, Suzanne PhD, Rogers, Sally J. PhD, Sigman, Marian PhD

Objective: To study the relationship between parent concerns about development in the first year and a half of life and later autism diagnostic outcomes.

Method: Parent concerns about development were collected (via PEDS®) for infants at high and low risk for autism, using a prospective, longitudinal design. Parents were asked about developmental concerns at study intake and when their infant was 6, 12, and 18 months. Infants were then followed up until 36 months, when diagnostic status was determined.

Results: By the time their child was 12 months, parents who have an older child with autism reported significantly more concerns in autism spectrum disorders-related areas than parents of children with typical outcomes. These concerns were significantly related to independent measures of developmental status and autism symptoms and helped predict which infants would later be diagnosed with autism or autism spectrum disorders. At 6 months, however, the concerns of parents who have an older child with autism do not predict outcome well.

Conclusion: Explicitly probing for parent concerns about development is useful for identifying children in need of closer monitoring and surveillance, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Comment: This invaluable study shows that parents may worry unnecessarily about their young children when an older child has an ASD diagnosis. That seems totally understandable and worth attending to with vigilant monitoring. Risk of ASD, just as with any developmental-behavioral problem increases as children age and the genetic correlates of ASD are high. Thus parents should be worried early on and it is our job as providers to address those worries, dispel when needed and watch carefully the development of all children at risk.

Sep 16, 2012

Summary of PEDS Research from Glascoe FP. Collaborating with Parents. 2nd Edition. Nolensville, Tennessee:, LLC, 2013

Frances P. Glascoe, Phd

PEDS® has been re-standardized and validated and its technical manual, Collaborating with Parents includes an enormous range of studies on PEDS®.

May 23, 2012

Parental Perception of the Utility of the PEDS Questionnaire

Claudia G. Lares, Lina Huerta-Saenz, Michelle King, Michael J. Janeczko
Published In: Presentation to the Pediatric Academic Societies, May, 2012

Background: The Parental Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®) questionnaire is a validated 10-item questionnaire that elicits parental concerns in multiple developmental areas. Little is known about how caretakers in minority populations perceive this tool to assess normal development.

Objective: To survey caretaker’s perceptions about the usefulness of the PEDS® questionnaire to assess child development and self-evaluation regarding child development knowledge.

Design/Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of a convenience sample at a resident’s continuity clinic at an academic community center in Philadelphia, PA. Inclusion criteria were: 1) Caretaker aged 18years 2) Child aged 2m-8years 3) Caretaker completed at least one PEDS® survey at a previous visit. Data were analyzed with Pearson Chi-square. The study was approved for exempt status by the IRB.

Results: A total of 421 caretakers were approached, 269 met criteria, 231 were enrolled and 38 refused. Most caretakers felt confident with their level of knowledge about child development (36% average, 51% enough, 5% experts). The educational level of the caretakers was significantly associated with their self-assessment of child development knowledge (p=0.006). The majority (79%) reported the purpose of the PEDS® was explained to them, and 78% felt that completing the PEDS® form was easy/ very easy. Two thirds (65%) felt the PEDS® was helpful to identify problems in their child’s development and 30% felt it was somewhat helpful. Half (53%) reported concerns in the PEDS®, but a third (29%) of these reported the concerns were not addressed by the provider. Most (74%) caretakers were satisfied with the PEDS®. Many parents commented that the PEDS® questions were too broad and should be age specific . The majority (90%) agreed that, in addition to PEDS®, a checklist could be helpful in understanding their child’s development.

Conclusions: Overall caretakers felt the PEDS® was an easy tool to assess child development. However, a third felt the PEDS® alone was not enough to identify problems in their child’s development and another third felt that their concerns had not been adequately addressed. These findings should encourage healthcare providers to address parental developmental concerns and provide additional tools to improve parental understanding about normal development. An additional developmental checklist may help address this need.

Comment: Complementing PEDS® with an accurate milestones screens addresses AAP policy, helps parents learn more about expected developmental skills, and helps clinicians decide whether, for those children who land on Path B (moderate risk) or who land on Path C after 4 1/2 years of age (mental health risk), a referral is needed or whether advising parents is the best course (with vigilant monitoring,of course). Use of the PEDS:DM® is a brief and helpful adjunct. Providers should also take opportunities at all well-visits to promote development, share information about typical development, etc.

Apr 12, 2012

Screening Developmental Domains In Preterm Children: Diagnostic Validity of “Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status: Developmental Milestones” (PEDS:DM) Assessment Level

MA Pritchard, 1,2, T de Dassal, 2, L Johnston, 3, E Beller, 4, F Bogossian, 5, S Callan, 2, C Crothers, 1, D Hovey, 1, S Russo, 5, D Cartwright, 1
1. Centre for Clinical Research, The University of Queensland, 2. Women’s Newborn Services, Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, 3. Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University, Belfast, Ireland, 4. Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice, Bond University, Robina, 5. Nursing and Midwifery, The University of Queensland, 6. Better Life Psychology, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Published In: Presentation to the 4th Congress of the European Academy of Paediatric Societies, Istanbul, Turkey, 2012.

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Very preterm children (VPT-born < 29 weeks gestation) are at high risk for delay across a range of developmental domains. The diagnostic utility of the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status: Developmental Milestones (PEDS:DM®) Assessment Level in screening for children with i)domain specific and ii)global cognitive delay was assessed in VPT children.

METHOD: Cross-sectional cohort of infants at 2 and 4-years corrected age for prematurity during 2010. Parents completed the PEDS:DM®-Assessment Level in correctly identifying language, motor and social-emotional domain development which was compared with a blinded 2-year-olds Bayley Scales of Infant Development III, 4-year-olds, Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Third Edition, and for both ages a Neurosensory Motor Development Assessment and Adaptive Behaviour Assessment System-Second Edition. Diagnostic validity-screening test characteristics were determined for each domain and global cognition.

RESULTS: Complete data was available on 149/192 (2-years, N = 73 and 4-years, N = 76) children. The prevalence for developmental delay using each tools standardized mean 2 (SD) was lower in all domains and globally compared to the established cut-off PEDS:DM® domain scores (≥25%-16th percentile). Sensitivity and specificity were consistently high (predominately >70%) as was the negative predictive value (>77%). The positive predictive value was lower reflecting the high over-referral rate. Mothers stated they found the assessment useful in articulating their infants’ developmental strengths and weaknesses by domains.

CONCLUSION: This simple tool has good diagnostic utility for identifying domain specific and global cognitive delay and can be used to enhance surveillance, and would be useful in recourse restricted environments.

Feb 25, 2012

Interpreting Parents’ Concerns About Their Children’s Development With “Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS)”: Culture Matters

Kiing, Jennifer S.H., Low, Poh Sim, Chan, Yiong Huak, Neihart, Maureen
Published In: Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 2012; 33(2):179-183.

Objective: This study explored the potential roles and utility of the Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®) to screen children for developmental delays in a Southeast Asian clinical sample of preschool children. The PEDS® is a 10-item questionnaire instrument used in pediatric settings for reporting parents’ concerns for their children’s development, learning, and behavior. Clinicians use it to make decisions about clinical pathways for high-, moderate-, and low-risk categories of concerns, but its utility in cross-cultural contexts has not been well documented.

Methods: Participants in this study were 1806 parents, teachers, and child care workers of preschool children in Singapore. Of these, 47.2% were English speaking, 21.2% were Mandarin Chinese speaking, and 31.6% were Malay speaking. PEDS® was translated into Chinese and Malay for parents using these languages predominantly.

Results: Only parent results were analyzed. The reporting of significant parental concern was considerably higher than US norms and Australian pilot figures when western cutoff scores were applied. When cutoff scores were adjusted, similar patterns of reporting of high, medium, and low risk for disability could be captured.

Conclusions: Parents’ interpretation of the concept of “concern” varies across language and culture. Findings highlight the importance of evaluating a screening tool’s use in local contexts before its widespread implementation to yield clinically meaningful results.

Comment from Frances Page Glascoe: Culture does matter. Quality translations do too. We’ve been working with Dr. Kiing and colleagues since she sent us the above data in 2001, where we mutually concluded that the Mandarin translation was problematic. It isn’t enough to translate and back-translate. Wording has to be tested by providers and parents to make sure it works as intended. In 2005, after much machinating and vetting, we generated a new translation using an alternative Chinese terms for “Do you have concerns…” that was not synonymous with “Do you care…?”. Back-translated, the phrasing for the Chinese translation is “Are you worried….?” Although we know this doesn’t work in English (only about 2% of English speaking parents will respond and we know that rates of problems are much higher than that), the new translation works well with Chinese speaking parents and ensures their rates of “worries” are commensurate with parents speaking other languages. We thank Dr. Kiing, her colleagues and especially Dr. Teck-Hock Toh for working with us on this issue. We’ve also shared the revised translation with researchers using Survey PEDS® within National Survey of Early Childhood Health (NSECH) who found similar problems with their original translation.

Ideally, journal editors/reviewers should ask about the time frame for data collection and if old, should also ask what is known and has been done since then. If such had occurred, this paper would surely not have been published.

So, please also read the subsequent study using better translations of Mandarin by Lim Boon Chuan and colleagues.

Feb 25, 2012

A Comparison of Objective Standardised Parent-Administered Questionnaires to that of Subjective Screening Practices for the Early Detection of Developmental Delay in At-Risk Infants

Silva, Melinda, Davies, Vic. Johannesburg, South Africa: University of the Witwatersrand, 2010

Methods: 133 Newborn infants admitted longer than 3 days to private-sector neonatal intensive care units were enrolled. 113 of these parents were contacted when their infants were 6-months corrected-age. They completed the ASQ (n=60) and the PEDS® COMBINED (n=65) questionnaires at home. Returned questionnaires were compared using an in-subject design. Concordance between the questionnaires was determined with the kappa coefficient (κ) and Test of Symmetry.

Results: Concordance between the ASQ and PEDS® COMBINED was 90.7% (κ = 0.82, ρ = 0.05). The ASQ and PEDS® COMBINED identified 40% and 42% of the cohort with developmental concerns. The ASQ and PEDS® COMBINED showed excellent interrater agreement, identifying the same infants requiring further developmental assessment. When there was discordance, it was non-significant in the direction of the ASQ being more likely to identify an infant as delayed overall and statistically significant in the direction of the PEDS® COMBINED being more likely to identify communication delays (ρ = 0.01)

Conclusions: The ASQ and PEDS® COMBINED identify the same infants with developmental concerns. The PEDS® COMBINED is more sensitive to communication delays.

Oct 23, 2011

Comparison of the ASQ and PEDS in Screening for Developmental Delay in Children Presenting for Primary Care

Marjolaine M. Limbos, PhD, David P. Joyce, MD
Published In: Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 2011;32 (7): 499-510.

Objectives: This study investigated the sensitivity and specificity of two brief, parent-completed developmental screening measures—the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) and the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®)—in children presenting to their primary care providers. Method: A sample of 334 children aged 12 to 60 months was recruited. Parents completed the PEDS® and the ASQ in their home or the primary care clinic of one of the investigators. The presence of >1 predictive concerns or abnormal domains was considered a positive screen. All children underwent evaluation (administered by a psychologist) with the following criterion measures: the Bayley Scales of Infant Development—Third Edition or the Wechsler Pre- school and Primary Scale of Intelligence—Third Edition, the Preschool Language Scale—Fourth Edition, and the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales—Second Edition. Results: The mean age of children was 32.3 months. Developmental delay was identified in 34 children (10%). The PEDS® had moderate sensitivity (74%) but low specificity (64%); comparatively, the ASQ had significantly higher sensitivity (82%) and specificity (78%). The ASQ had moderate sensitivity and specificity across age subgroups, whereas the PEDS® had either low sensi- tivity or specificity in each of the age subgroups, except for the <30 month group, where there was moderate sensitivity (78%) and specificity (75%). Using >2 predictive concerns on the PEDS® or >2 abnormal domains on the ASQ significantly improved specificity of both tests (89% and 94%, respectively) but resulted in very low sensitivity (41% and 47%, respectively). Conclusions: These findings support the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics, demonstrating that both the ASQ and, to a lesser extent, the PEDS® have reasonable test characteristics for developmental screening in primary care settings. Although the ASQ seems to have higher sensitivity and specificity across a variety of age groups, the choice of which measure to use should be determined by the practice setting, population served, and preference of the physician.

Comment from Dr. Glascoe: In response to the above paper, several researchers including the author of PEDS® and the ASQ, raised concerns about the overly strict definition of developmental delay. PEDS® is designed to identify children with milder delays, i.e., not just high risk but also at risk and this explains its lower specificity in comparison with the ASQ. In addition, it is not clear that the researchers dealt appropriately with PEDS® Response Forms on which nothing was written–these should either be met with a readministration by interview or discarded from studies. The in-press letter to the editor is below.

Glascoe FP, Marks KP, Squires J. Improving the Definition of Developmental Delay. JDBP. 2011, in press

To the Editor:

We compliment Drs. Limbos and Joyce on their careful and well-written study (Comparison of the ASQ and PEDS® in Screening for Developmental Delay in Children Presenting for Primary Care. The authors’ research was exemplary in viewing how well the ASQ and PEDS® performed in the identification of children with probable disabilities, i.e., those scoring below the 10th percentile and ostensibly eligible for early intervention/special education.

But the term ‘developmental delay’ also embraces those likely to fail in school—those performing above the 9thth percentile and below the 25th percentile. Such at-risk children rarely qualify for Early Intervention or special education but that does not mean they don’t need to be identified by screens as in need of other kinds of intervention (e.g., Head Start, Reach Out and Read, parent training, etc.).

Screens should identify not only disabled but also at-risk children and provide clinicians appropriate guidance for selecting diverse resources needed to help both groups. We encourage the authors to review their findings in order to speak to the complete meaning of developmental delay. Such an analysis seems likely to render different levels of sensitivity and specificity for both PEDS® and the ASQ.

Frances Page Glascoe, Ph.D.
Professor of Pediatrics
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee

Kevin P. Marks, M.D., FAAP
PeaceHealth Medical Group
1162 Willamette
Eugene, Oregon 97401.

Jane Squires, Ph.D.
Professor, College of Education
Director, Center on Human Development
Director, Early Intervention Program
University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon

Jul 10, 2010

How Do Screening Tests Perform in Settings Serving At-risk Populations?

Glascoe FP, Macias M, Herrera P, Brixey S, Simpson P, Li S.
Published In: Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 2010

Purpose: Quality screens are standardized on a sample of children and families whose socio-economic and demographic characteristics represent those of an entire nation (e.g., in the US by creating a normative group that reflects Census Bureau population parameters). Standardization of tests on such a sample defines what is typical performance and, in the case of screening tests, predicted frequencies of referral rates. Should researchers and clinicians working with Medicaid, NICU follow-up, or other at-risk groups expect their referral rates to differ from national norms?

Methods: Referral rates based on national norms for Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®) (N = 771) were compared to those from a pediatric clinic serving mostly Medicaid patients in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (N = 744), and to 211LA, a warm line serving mostly ethnic minority families (47% Latino and 30% Arican-American) in non-medical crisis (e.g., housing or food instability)(N = 257).

Results: Chi-square comparisons among the three groups revealed that clinics serving families with elevated rates of psychosocial risk (e.g., poverty, less than a high school education, limited English proficiency, etc.) had significantly higher rates of children with problematic performance on PEDS® (p < .0001). These results are corroborated by other studies of at-risk children administered different screening tests.

Conclusions: The impact of psychosocial risk on development is well known to developmental-behavioral specialists. Helping trainees and generalist pediatricians anticipate increased referral rates when working with at-risk populations is needed. Screening test authors should help by reporting, not only the frequency of problematic performance on nationally representative samples, but also frequencies for various at-risk populations (e.g., children in foster-care, NICU follow-up, etc.).

Feb 09, 2010

Documentation Status and Parental Concerns About Development in Young US Children of Mexican Origin

Alexander N. Ortega, PhD, Sarah M. Horwitz, PhD, Hai Fang, PhD, Alice A. Kuo, MD, PhD, Steven P. Wallace, PhD, Moira Inkelas, PhD
Published In: Acadademic Pediatrics, 2009 Jul-Aug;9(4):278-82. Epub 2009 Apr 25.

OBJECTIVE: To examine parent concerns about development, learning, and behavior for young children of Mexican origin, and to identify whether these reports differ by families’ citizenship/documentation status.

METHODS: Data come from the 2005 California Health Interview Survey, a population-based random-digit dial telephone survey of California’s noninstitutionalized population. California Health Inerview Survey (CHIS) investigators completed interviews of 43 020 households with a total of 5856 children under age 6 years, of whom 1786 were reported being of Mexican origin. Developmental risk was measured by parent concerns elicited by the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status. We used bivariate and multivariate analyses to examine associations between developmental risk and family citizenship/documentation status (parents are undocumented, at least one documented noncitizen parent, or both parents are US citizens) among children of Mexican origin and US-born non-Latino white children, after adjusting for age, income, parental education, and predominant household language.

RESULTS: In multivariate analyses, children of Mexican origin did not differ significantly from US-born white children in developmental risk (odds ratio 1.12, 95% confidence interval 0.88-1.42). In subgroup analyses, children of Mexican origin with undocumented parents had higher odds of developmental risk (odds ratio 1.53, 95% confidence interval 1.00-2.33) than non-Latino white children whose parents were citizens, after adjusting for confounders.

CONCLUSIONS: Mexican children with undocumented parents have greater parent-reported developmental risk than Mexican and white children whose parents are US citizens or otherwise legally documented. More research is needed to understand the roles of immigration stress and home environments on the developmental risks of children in households with undocumented parents.

Feb 09, 2010

Validity Of Parents’ Evaluation Of Developmental Status (PEDS) In Detecting Developmental Disorders In 3-12 Month Old Infants

I Wayan Gustawan, Soetjiningsih, Soeroyo Machfudz, Jalan Nias
Udayana University, Sanglah Hospital, Udayana University, Sanglah Hospital

Background: Every disorder in any developmental stage will result in alteration of the quality of human resources in the future. Early detection is an effort to recognize disorders in every developmental stage. Parents’ concern can be helpful in identifying children in need of assessment and can be used as a prescreening test to reduce the number of children who require formal screening.

Objective: The objective of this study was to examine diagnostic value of PEDS® instrument in order to determine developmental disorders in infant.

Methods: It was carried out in Department of Child Health, Medical School, Udayana University/Sanglah Hospital, Denpasar. In this study, 170 infants, 3-12 month old infant who visited Pediatric Outpatient Clinic and eligible for inclusion and exclusion criteria were selected as sample. The parents filled the PEDS® questionnaire and the results of PEDS® were compared with the results of BSID-II as a gold standard. The main statistical analyses are sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, positive and negative likelihood ratio, and pre-test and post-test probability.

Results: PEDS® showed a sensitivity of 83.9% (95% CI 67.8 to 93.8), a specificity of 81.3% (95% CI 74.2 to 87.1), a positive predictive value of 50.0% (95% CI 40.6 to 59.4), a negative predictive value of 95.8% (95% CI 91.2 to 98.0), a likelihood ratio positive of 4.5 (95% CI 3.1 to 6.6), a likelihood ratio negative of 0.2 (95% CI 0.1 to 0.4), a pre-test probability of 18.2% and a post-test probability of 49.9% (95% CI 40.6 to 59.3).

Conclusions: PEDS® can be used as an initial screening test to detect developmental disorders in 3-12 month infants

Feb 09, 2010

Helping parents understand developmental-behavioral screening

Marks KP, Glascoe FP.
Published In: Contemporary Pediatrics, 2010; 27:54-61

This is the third in a series of articles in Contemporary Pediatrics devoted to early detection of children with developmental-behavioral problems, the most common of all childhood conditions and one we can often treat, with good outcomes. This article covers how to help parents participate in the process of early detection and addresses these topics:

  • Early intervention assessment is often critical to diagnosing a potentially treatable or preventable condition.
  • Early intervention and early childhood special education services depend on early detection.
  • Early intervention is associated with long-term improvements in math and language scores.
  • Clinicians are responsible for discussing screening test results with parents.
  • Before explaining a screen’s results, how to ask parents to discuss concerns they have about their child.
  • How to tell parents that many developmental-behavioral disorders or disabilities have evidence-based treatment plans and positive outcomes
Feb 09, 2010

Parenting Behaviors, Perceptions, and Psychosocial Risk: Impacts on Young Children’s Development

Glascoe FP, Leew S.
Published In: Pediatrics, 2010; 125: 313-319

OBJECTIVE The goal of this study was to assess which parenting behaviors, perceptions, and risk factors were associated with optimal versus delayed development.

METHODS A total of 382 families from the national Brigance Infant and Toddler Screens standardization and validation study participated. Data sources included parent questionnaires, child testing, and examiner observations of parent-child interactions. Parenting styles research was operationalized with the Brigance Parent-Child Interactions Scale, a brief measure of parenting behaviors and perceptions.

RESULTS Six positive parenting behaviors and perceptions predicted average to above-average development on the Brigance screens. Conversely, <2 positive parenting behaviors and negative perceptions of children indicated child performance nearly 2 SDs below the mean on Brigance screens. Psychosocial risk factors associated with fewer positive parenting behaviors and with negative perceptions included >3 children in the home, multiple moves, limited English, and parental depression.

CONCLUSIONS A dearth of positive parenting behaviors plus negative perceptions of children, with or without psychosocial risk factors, negatively affect child development, which is apparent as early as 6 months of age. The older the child is, the greater the performance gaps are. Language development is particularly at risk when parenting is problematic. Findings underscore the importance of early development promotion with parents, focusing on their talking, playing, and reading with children, and the need for interventions regarding psychosocial risk factors.

Feb 09, 2010

Three studies from the Philippines

Connie T. Palarca, MD, Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental Philippines

BACKGROUND: Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status or PEDS® is a simple, inexpensive screen for developmental and behavioral problems in children from birth to 8 years old. It is a standardized screening tool for developmental and behavioral detection for a collaborative and family-focused care.

OBJECTIVES: To elicit the different developmental and behavioral concerns of parents / caregivers of children aged 0 to 96 months and to determine the children’s level of risk for disabilities based on the elicited parental concerns. STUDY DESIGN. This is a descriptive and prospective study.

SETTING: The study was conducted in a private pediatric clinic in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, Philippines. PARTICIPANTS. A total of 421 parents/caregivers with children aged 0 to 96 months answered the PEDS® response forms with Visayan translation during their outpatient consultation. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S). The early detection of developmental and behavioral problems of children using the parental concerns elicited in the PEDS® screening.

RESULTS: There were 222 males and 199 females with a male to female ratio of 1.11:1. Age ranged from 0.5 month to 96 months, mean age of 52.62. Majority of subjects belong to 0-12 month’s age group (31.59%). Of the 421 children, 19.71% (n=83) had parental concerns. There were more parental concerns on male subjects (62.65%) than female subjects (37.34%). Among the 83 children with parental concerns, 20.48% (n=17) belongs to 25-36 month’s age group (mean of 31.52+3.34). There is a significant relationship between the age of the subjects and parental concerns with a p value of 0.019.

CONCLUSION: Almost 20% of patients visiting the clinic for either well or sick consultation had developmental and behavioral concerns. Through the different parental concerns, PEDS® screening is able to determine the children at risk for disabilities and is able to facilitate early referral and early intervention on these children.

Feb 09, 2010

Detección precoz de problemas del desarrollo por el pediatría: Importancia de los padres

García-Tornel S, Glascoe FP.

Please see full article by clicking on our translations page.

Feb 09, 2010

Are Overreferrals on Developmental Screening Tests Really a Problem?

Glascoe, FP.
Published In: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 2001, 155:54-59.

Background: Developmental screening tests, even those meeting standards for screening test accuracy, produce numerous false-positive results for 15% to 30% of children. This is thought to produce unnecessary referrals for diagnostic testing or special services and increase the cost of screening programs.

Objectives: To explore whether children who pass screening tests differ in important ways from those who do not and to determine whether children over-referred for testing benefit from the scrutiny of diagnostic testing and treatment planning.

Methods: Subjects were a national sample of 512 parents and their children (age range of the children, 7 months to 8 years) who participated in validation studies of various screening tests. Psychological examiners adhering to standardized directions obtained informed consent and administered at least 2 developmental screening measures (the Brigance Screens, the Battelle Developmental Inventory Screening Test, the Denver-II, and the Parents’ Evaluations of Developmental Status) and a concurrent battery of diagnostic measures, including tests of intelligence, language, and academic achievement (for children aged 21⁄2 years and older). The performance on diagnostic measures of children who failed screening but were not found to have a disability (false positives) was compared with that of children who passed screening and did not have a disability on diagnostic testing (true negatives).

Results: Children with false-positive scores performed significantly (p< .001) lower on diagnostic measures than did children with true - negative scores . The false-positive group had scores in adaptive behavior, language, intelligence, and academic achievement that were 9 to 14 points lower than the scores of those in the true-negative group. When viewing the likelihood of scoring below the 25th percentile on diagnostic measures, children with false-positive scores had a relative risk of 2.6 in adaptive behavior (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.67- 4.21), 3.1 in language skills (95% CI, 1.90-5.20), 6.7 on intelligence tests (95% CI, 3.28-13.50), and 4.9 on academic measures (95% CI, 2.61-9.28). Overall, 151 (70%) of children with false-positive results scored below the 25th percentile on 1 or more diagnostic measures (the point at which most children have difficulty benefiting from typical classroom instruction) in contrast with 64 (29%) of the children with true-negative scores (odds ratio, 5. 6; 95% CI , 3. 73- 8. 49) . Children with false-positive scores were also more likely to be nonwhite and to have parents who had not graduated from high school. Performance differences between children with true-negative scores and children with false-positive scores continued to be significant (p < .001) even after adjusting for sociodemographic differences between groups.

Conclusions: Children overreferred for diagnostic testing by developmental screens perform substantially lower than children with true-negative scores on measures of intelligence, language, and academic achievement—the 3 best predictors of school success. These children also carry more psychosocial risk factors, such as limited parental education and minority status. Thus, children with false-positive screening results are an at-risk group for whom diagnostic testing may not be an unnecessary expense but rather a beneficial and needed service that can help focus intervention efforts. Although such testing will not indicate a need for special education placement, it can be useful in identifying children’s needs for other programs known to improve language, cognitive, and academic skills, such as Head Start, Title I services, tutoring, private speech-language therapy, and quality day care.

Feb 09, 2010

Use of Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS) in Population Surveys

A collection of research by various authors.

Background: Because PEDS®’ is quite brief and enjoys abundant supporting research, it has been included in the National Survey of Children’s Health, National Survey on Early Childhood Health (NSECH), Promoting Healthy Developmental Survey (PHDS), California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), California First Five Survey, Calgary and Toronto’s Public Health Departments. (Abstracts and commentary from a range of studies, appear at the bottom of this document). When used in surveys, PEDS® has traditionally differed from (clinical) PEDS® in that it eliminates all open-ended questions and includes several others items that encourage parents to indicate concerns about their child’s vision, hearing, health, and global developmental status.

Challenges: While helpful in population-focused needs assessment and public health mapping studies, PEDS® in a survey format cannot be used to clinical care because it does not elicit parents’ actual concerns. Verbatim comments are essential for focusing an encounter, i.e., choosing parent education materials, creating a follow-up plan and a problem checklist, identifying the types of referrals needed, and managing visit length by reducing the ever problematic, “oh by the way” concerns. Parents who have been encouraged to give voice to their concerns are far more likely to follow through with recommendations.

An additional challenge when using PEDS® as a closed-ended survey is that Spanish speakers seem to have difficulty with the questions and thus have suspiciously low rates of risk. Translation problems seem explanatory (since translation problems have dogged other measures such as the Pediatric Symptom Checklist). Further, some questions, even in English, have varied across studies, making it hard for researchers to compare findings across studies. Scoring for PEDS® within surveys, even though established within the PHDS survey, seems to be a continuing mystery to many researchers, requiring hours of uncompensated input from PEDS®’ staff.

Solutions: As a consequence, we have created an electronic, official version of Survey PEDS®. This features the 12 questions with CATI (computer-assisted telephone interview) style prompts for the closed-ended responses; all much improved over that used in earlier surveys, and all questions and responses have been the focus of very careful translation into Spanish, i.e., vetted by more than 20 Spanish-English speaking health care providers, and then trialled against clinical PEDS® and shown to have a high level of agreement (98%).

Scoring is automated and thus both error free and a substantial time-saver over hand-scoring. The scoring service also automatically computes the child’s exact chronological age with corrections for prematurity up to 24 months of age. The results parallel clinical PEDS®: high risk, moderate risk, low risk but concerned, or low risk/not concerned.

Other features of the online scoring service are brief recommendations about the apparent needs of each child and family (e.g., for speech-language evaluation, information on child-rearing, more vigilant monitoring of developmental-behavioral status, mental health services, etc.). The service also offers the (optional) Modified Checklist of Autism in Toddlers, and will soon have the 6 – 8 skill focused questions at each age from PEDS®: Developmental Milestones, along with translations into languages other than English and Spanish.

The Survey PEDS® online scoring service also provides, optionally, space to type in parents’ exact comments. This enables interviewers to capture the specific types of concerns parents have, and thus use Survey PEDS® in both population research and clinical care. Additional information, mostly clinical in nature, returned from our site include summary reports for parents, referral letters if needed, and ICD-9 and procedure codes. The service also houses an administrative panel so that licensed users can review records of all screens administered and view of summary of overall results.

Although the Survey PEDS® service costs, research discounts apply and per use fees range from $1.03 to $1.37, depending on volume. The site can be used in various ways as follows:

The Survey PEDS® scoring service can be used in various ways:

  1. Accessing the site when administering PEDS®. Results are returned in real time;
  2. Collecting PEDS® answers within your own software/database and sending, usually at the end of your study, a batch submission that we score and return for you (and for which we will send formatting specifications, and the Survey PEDS® questions to include in your software). You would then concatenate the Excel type database we return into your own; and/or
  3. a truly integrated approach where parents’ comments are sent to our server, scored, and returned into your software/database (we can send the details on how to create and program the 25 or so fields needed in your software, but some IT support will be needed on your end as well).

We are happy to discuss the pros and cons of each approach according to how your project is structured, the skill levels of interviewers, their needs for real-time results, etc. Please contact us through our website (electronic inquiries).

Abstracts on PEDS® as used in population research studies

Several studies fromToronto Public Health and Calgary Public Health (abstracted near the bottom of this document) used clinical PEDS® in a CATI and capitalized on our scoring service.

Feb 09, 2010

The importance of discussing parents’ concerns about development: Do Parents Express Concerns Spontaneously?

Glascoe FP
Published In: Ambulatory Child Health, 1997;2:349-356.

It is the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on the Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health1 and the authors of Bright Futures2 that at each health supervision visit, pediatricians discuss parents’ psychosocial concerns. The value of this recommendation is supported, in part, by research showing that in response to a standardized protocol for eliciting and interpreting parents’ concerns, parents can provide highly accurate indicators of childhood disabilities.

Nevertheless, little is known about how parents express concerns outside of research settings. Pediatricians may use varying methods for eliciting concerns or they may depend on parents to raise concerns spontaneously. These approaches may alter the content of discussions or affect referral decisions. For example, Sharp et al. showed that despite readily engaging parents in discussions of psychosocial issues, pediatric residents had difficulty responding appropriately to parents’ concerns – often ignoring concerns or failing to explore them further.8 Another study showed that fewer than 50% of patients with psychiatric disturbance were referred even when parents raised concerns.

Thus there are a number of research questions to be answered about the actual use and impact of parents’ concerns about children’s development on provider referrals. These include:

  • Are parents more likely to seek health care when they have concerns about their children?
  • How likely are parents to discuss concerns about development with health care providers?
  • What kinds of concerns are discussed?
  • Do parental socioeconomic status and other family characteristics affect the likelihood of raising concerns?
  • What happens after concerns are discussed?

The goal of this study is to provide preliminary answers to these questions. The results should have implications for the use of parents’ concerns in developmental surveillance and promotion as well as for future research.

Feb 09, 2010

PEDS: Developmental Milestones An Accurate Brief Tool for Surveillance and Screening

Kyle B. Brothers, Frances Page Glascoe, Nicholas S. Robertshaw
Published In: Clinical Pediatrics, 2008; 47; 271 - 279

About 16% of children have developmental-behavioral disabilities but less than one-third of the children are detected by their health care providers, probably because of the use of informal milestones checklists. The goal of this study is to determine the reliability, validity, accuracy, and utility of a new tool, PEDS®: Developmental Milestones (PEDS:DM®). Data from a nationally representative sample of 1619 children administered developmental diagnostic measures were mined for items that best predicted performance in each developmental domain. A total of 112 met inclusion criteria, that is, sensitivity/specificity ≥70%. For each domain/age level (birth to 8 years of age), ensitivity to performance less than or equal to the 16th percentile on diagnostic measures was 83% and specificity was 84%. Reliability was high (test–retest, .98 to .99; interrater, .82 to .96; κ, .81). The readability level was 1.8 grades (range 1.1 to 2.6). The PEDS:DM® appears to be a validated, accurate alternative to informal milestones checklists that are a probable contributor to underdetection of children with delays and disabilities.

Feb 09, 2010

Identifying 4-Month-Old Infants at-Risk in Community Screening

Meade VA, Sweeney JK, Chandler LS, Woodward BJ.
Dr. Meade is faculty in the Divison of Diagnostics/Special Education within the Department of Education in Tofol, Kosrae, FSM (Micronesia) and can be contacted by email:
Published In: Pediatric Physical Therapy, 2009, 21; 2: 150-157.

Purpose: To validate a 2-step infant developmental screening protocol administered by non-physician health professionals.

Subjects: The parents of 213 eligible 4 – 6 month olds were invited to attend one of five community screening clinics in a single county in Minnesota. 66 families participated in the study: 55 chose to attend a screening clinic and follow-up measures were sent (via surface mail, 2 months later, to a random sample of 65 families) of whom 11 returned completed questionnaires. Of infants whose parents attended screening clinics, 92% were white and 68% were grouped as ‘risk- positive’ after histories were taken, which included both biological (prematurity or a history of medical diagnoses in the family) or social-environmental factors (such as a teen mother).

Methods: A modified version of Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®) was administered to all parents. PEDS®, a measure eliciting parents’ concerns in all developmental-behavioral domains, was modified by retaining four (of the ten) PEDS® questions: items focused on global/cognitive, expressive language, medical/other, and social emotional issues. Two additional items were added: one that focused on feeding, and a second item requiring parents to estimate their child’s developmental status given multiple choices [Parents were asked if the child was a) more advanced b) the same as or c) less advanced than other infants of the same age]. Parents who attended the screening clinics were also administered the Meade Movement Checklist (MMCL), a 27 item observational scale focused on infant movement and behavior during a series of structured parent-child interactions as the second stage of screening. ( for a fact sheet summarizing all research on the MMCL) Criterion measures included 1SD below the mean one either the mental or motor scales of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II and the Movement Assessment of Infants at 6 months and the Ages and Stages Questionnaire plus the Social-Emotional scale at 8 months of age.

Results: Parents attending screening clinics held significantly more concerns than those who did not. Of the former, 61% held concerns about feeding issues. The modified PEDS® was 80% sensitive when compared to the BSID-II results (using 1SD below the mean on either the mental or psychomotor scales) but only 48% specific in identifying infants who needed further evaluation. The MMCL demonstrated 87.5% sensitivity, 91.4% specificity, and 70% positive predictive value compared to the PDI. There was no relationship between screening results at 4 months and the ASQ or ASQ-SE results at 8 months.

Conclusions: Inviting parents to attend community screening clinics and then eliciting parents’ concerns of those who chose to attend helped discern children in need of further screening. Of attendees, most families had children with a range of developmental, behavioral and health problems that were refined by further screening. Since parents actively choose to attend the screening clinics, it is still possible that some parents may have wished to attend but could not for other reasons and therefore their children were missed. Screening 25.8% of a birth cohort identified by parent concerns in step one, resulted in high validity (sensitivity 87.5%; specificity 91.4%) in identifying infants in step two. Combining parent concerns and the MMCL effectively increased PPV to 70%. This two-stage screening process, implemented by nonphysician health professionals provides a valid, new perspective for screening young infants. Future research should carefully focus on parents’ concerns about feeding and gross motor skills. A nuanced taxonomy of such concerns should help facilitate swift detection of children at risk for motor disorders such as cerebral palsy while also discerning which parental concerns reflect typical developmental issues for parents of young children.

Feb 09, 2010

Can Parental Concerns Detect Children With Behavorial Problems?

Prahbhjot Malhi, Pratibha Singhi
Published In: Studia-Psychologica, 2002; Vol 44 (4): 359-365

Investigated the usefulness of parents’ concerns about a child’s behavior in the early detection of significant behavioral disturbances. 60 parents with children aged 24-60 mo of age were recruited. Parents’ concerns were elicited using the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®), and behavioral problems were measured by the Pre-School Behavior Checklist (PBCL). Results indicate the commonality of parental concerns about behavior. PEDS® was 76% sensitive to child’s conduct problems and 70% specific in identifying children with normal behavior. Demographic and developmental status of the child did not seem to influence whether parents’ concerns about behavior were accurate or inaccurate in identifying children with significant conduct problems. Multiple regression analysis revealed that the number of parental concerns, type of family, and number of significant concerns accounted for 25% of variance in the PBCL score.

Feb 09, 2010

Toward a Model for An Evidenced-Based Approach to Developmental/Behavioral Surveillance, Promotion and Patient Education

Glascoe FP
Published In: Ambulatory Child Health, 1999, 5; 197-208

Objective: To propose and preliminarily assess a model for helping providers select, based on empirical evidence, the optimal in-office developmental/behavioral service to offer families: (1) when to refer patients for diagnostic evaluations; (2) use screening measures to assist with referral decisions; (3) offer patient education; (4) watch vigilantly over time; and (5) when to offer reassurance and routine monitoring. The rationale is that if providers can respond optimally to children’s developmental and behavioral needs, children may be more likely to receive early intervention that can ameliorate or eliminate disabilities. This Is known to reduce the risk of school failure, drop out, criminality, teen child-bearing, and unemployment.

Subjects and Sites: Data from four previously published studies on the relationship between parents’ concerns and children’s developmental/behavioral status was grouped and reanalyzed in order to test optimal decision-making regarding parents’ concerns. Subjects were 771 children between 0 – 8 year of age and their parents who approximated demographic characteristics of the US. Settings included teaching hospitals, private pediatric practices, day care centers and public schools.

Measurement and Procedures: In all four studies, parents’ concerns were elicited by Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®) and children were administered a battery of developmental and behavioral tests.

Results: The relationship between PEDS® and concurrent measures revealed five distinct groups of families who either had different types of concerns or children with differing levels of risk. Children at highest risk were those whose parents had multiple of the concerns predictive of disabilities (OR = 20.1, CI = 10.5 – 36.3). Responding with screening tests reduced sensitivity below acceptable levels suggesting that referrals for diagnostic evaluations are the best response. Parents whose children had moderate levels of risk for disabilities were those with either single of the predictive concerns or with communication barriers, defined as incomplete, inconsistent or nonsensical responses on PEDS® (OR ranges 4.4 to 7.6). These groups benefited from screening first to reduce false positives. Nevertheless, children in these groups who passed screening were likely to perform below average in areas critical to school success. This suggests the need for patient education and watchful waiting. Parents whose children had low levels of risk were those with no concerns or concerns nonpredictive of disabilities (OR ranges 1.0 -= 1.3). Screening these groups resulted in an unacceptable loss of specificity which suggests that patient education should be offered to those with nonpredictive concerns and routine monitoring for those with no concerns at all.

Conclusions: – The results suggest that clinicians can make reasonably accurate decisions about which psychosocial services to provide families if these decisions are based on the empirically derived relationship between parents’ concerns and children’s developmental status. Such an approach is not only brief but also offers a three fold improvement over the usual rates of disability detection in pediatric offices.

Jan 27, 2010

What Parent Concerns Are Predictive for Failed Critical Items on the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers?

Kimberly A. Twyman, Michelle M. Macias, Frances Page Glascoe
First Author is a Fellow in Training E-PAS2007:615880.12, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.
Published In: Ambulatory Pediatrics, 2005;5:143-149

BACKGROUND: Early detection of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is crucial for best outcomes; therefore it is essential to identify the specific characteristics on developmental-behavioral (DB) screening that call for further ASD screening.

OBJECTIVE: This study determines what DB concerns on the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®), a parent competed DB screening tool, were associated with critical (2/6 items most sensitive to ASD diagnosis) failures on an ASD specific screening tool, the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT), and if specific concerns are predictive for certain failed M-CHAT critical items.

DESIGN/METHODS: By retrospective chart review, demographic data and scores for M-CHAT and PEDS® were abstracted from the website Subjects who failed the M-CHAT were divided into two groups: Critical vs. Non-Critical Failure. One or more predictive concerns on PEDS® constituted a failed screen. Concerns in each PEDS® developmental domain were analyzed for prediction of critical M-CHAT failures, and if particular concerns were associated with certain failed items.

RESULTS: Of the 361 subjects, 59% failed on the basis of critical items. With respect to demographic factors, the 2 groups differed only on residential location. The Critical Fail group was more likely to have a PEDS® score that would lead to referral for further testing (OR 4.3 CI 1.34-13.77). The predictive items on PEDS® for M-CHAT critical failure included expressive language (OR 2.1 CI 1.01-4.55), receptive language (OR 2.3 CI 1.33-3.91), and self-help (OR 2.2 CI 1.30-3.69), while behavior concerns were less predictive (OR .46 CI .21-.99). Each of these domains was associated with failed responses for 3 M-CHAT items-imitation, sharing, and joint attention; receptive language was also associated with response to name (p<0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Concerns within language domains are expected, as these are prominent ASD features. The association between the self-help domain and M-CHAT critical items reinforces the importance of joint attention in detecting a possible ASD. Particular attention to the language and self-help domains in DB screening tools such as PEDS® may elicit concerns for behaviors most sensitive to ASD which require further screening.

Mar 01, 2009

Prevalence of Developmental and Behavioral Disorders in a Pediatric Hospital

Mario Cesar Petersen, MD, MPH, David Arnold Kube, MD, Toni M. Whitaker, MD, Joyce Carolyn Graff, RN, PhD, Frederick B. Palmer, MD
Published In: Pediatrics, Vol. 123 No. 3, March 2009, pp. e490-e495 (doi:10.1542/peds.2008-2750)

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of developmental and behavioral disorders in a convenience sample of children in an acute care pediatric hospital setting. We hypothesized that hospitalized children would have a higher prevalence of developmental and behavioral disorders than the general population.

METHODS: Data for this cross-sectional study were collected during interviews with primary caregivers of 325 children from infancy throughout childhood who were admitted to a general pediatric service. Screening tests included the Child Development Inventory (3 months to 6 years), Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (0–8 years), Pediatric Symptom Checklist (4–18 years), and Vanderbilt Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Parent Rating Scale (6–18 years). Children were classified as having a known developmental and behavioral disorder, a suspected developmental and behavioral disorder, or no developmental and behavioral disorder.

RESULTS: The prevalence of developmental and behavioral disorders among the hospitalized children 6 months to 17 years of age was 33.5%. A total of 72 children (22.1%) had known developmental and behavioral disorders and 37 (11.4%) had suspected developmental and behavioral disorders. This high prevalence of developmental and behavioral disorders included high rates of cerebral palsy (6.1%) and mental retardation or developmental delay (8.6%).

CONCLUSION: Hospitalization for treatment of acute conditions provides another opportunity for developmental surveillance. This higher prevalence of developmental and behavioral disorders in hospitalized children emphasizes the need to screen for developmental disabilities at every opportunity. Strategies to implement systematic screening of hospitalized children should be examined.

Comment: One out of three hospitalized children perform poorly on a screening test, suggesting that routine developmental-behavioral screening is essential. Nevertheless, parents of children already enrolled in special services do not need screening, and will under-report developmental delays given likely satisfaction with services. Asking parents about which services they already receive is wise.

Feb 09, 2009

Screening Strategies for Autism Spectrum Disorder in Pediatric Primary Care

Pinto-Martin J. et al
Published In: JDBP, 2008; 29(5) 345 – 350

Pinto-Martin et al’s study of whether a broad-band developmental screen, i.e., “Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status” (PEDS®), detects children with probable autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is fraught with problems in methodology and analysis. Although the authors report administering PEDS® by interview in 7% of cases, it is not evident that interviews were also provided if parents failed to answer any PEDS® questions in writing. The very low reported rates of parents with non-predictive concerns (13% in the study in question, versus 20% to 28% across various PEDS®’ standardization studies) suggests PEDS® was not administered correctly. The apparent lack of adherence to standardized directions raises concerns about whether reported frequencies on other PEDS® paths and on the M-CHAT itself reflect legitimate results. That PEDS® has established sensitivity and specificity to social-emotional problems, language impairments, learning and intellectual disabilities, also casts doubt on the study’s methods, results, and interpretation.

In addition, the authors used an outdated scoring protocol for viewing the relationship between PEDS® performance and possible ASD. In a much larger discriminant validity study on 427 children administered both PEDS® and the M-CHAT,4 three or more parental concerns among social-emotional, behavioral, fine motor, gross motor, or receptive language development was 78% sensitive to problematic M-CHAT scores, while fewer than three such concerns was 75% specific. That the researchers excluded most of the above concerns from their analysis only to conclude that PEDS® does not capture such issues as social interactions and play behaviors, obfuscates the thoroughly established value of listening to parents. The authors were personally informed of scoring changes for PEDS® more than two years ago when they presented findings on 66 children presumably included in the current study.5 At the time, their results were markedly different: PEDS® was found to have 78% sensitivity to M-CHAT failures and 26% specificity, confirming, as is consistent with other research,3-4 that PEDS® identifies children at risk for other types of disabilities and that a different scoring paradigm is needed to refine referrals for ASD evaluations. That Pinto-Martin et al have continued in their refusal to re-evaluate their data, is completely bewildering.

The value of viewing unique performance patterns for children with ASD has also been found on the Ages and Stages Questionnaire.6 In a presentation at the October 2008 Annual Meeting of the Society for Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, children with ASD had high rates of deficits in the personal-social, problem-solving, communication, and in the motor domain to a lesser extent. This illustrates the importance of viewing more than just pass/fail results when attempting to discern ASD from other developmental disorders, and is a recommendation that makes sense given the complex characteristics of children on the spectrum.

Although we agree with Pinto-Martin et al in their recommendation that an ASD specific screen should be deployed periodically alongside broad-band screens, many providers do not find time to use measures such as the M-CHAT. Pinto-Martin et al’s study could have contributed much to early detection of ASD in primary care settings if they had administered and correctly scored the broad-band screen they researched and cross-validated prior research by viewing performance patterns. Instead, the researchers proffer only the erroneous conclusion that broad-band screens “will miss a substantial proportion” of those at risk for ASD. This conclusion is not supported by their study. We urge the authors to review their data, deal with the probability that some test administrations were confounded by literacy and/or language barriers, apply current scoring paradigms, reanalyze their results and conclusions, and/or retract their manuscript.


  • Pinto-Martin JA, Young LM, Mandell DS, Poghosyan L, Giarelli E, Levy SE. Screening Strategies for Autism Spectrum Disorder in Pediatric Primary Care. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. 2008; 29(5): 345 – 350.
  • Glascoe FP. Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®). Nashville, Tennessee: Ellsworth & Vandermeer Press, LLC, 2006 (
  • Glascoe FP. Collaborating with Parents: Using Parents’ Evaluations of Developmental Status to Detect and Address Developmental and Behavioral Problems. Nashville, Tennessee: Ellsworth & Vandermeer Press, Ltd. ,2002. (with subsequent research updates on
  • Glascoe FP, Macias M., Wegner L. Robertshaw N. Can Parents’ Concerns Detect Children with Probable Autism Spectrum Disorder. Clinical Pediatrics. 2007; 46: 801 – 805.
  • Young L, Pinto-Martin J, Warszawa A, Giarelli E, Levy S. Comparison of a General Developmental Screening Tool and an Autism Specific Screening Tool in Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Assessment. Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. 2006;27(5):431
  • Nickel RE, Murphy K, Grant K, Squires JK. Identification of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) by the Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQ). Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. October, 2008. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, in press.
Feb 09, 2009

Making developmental-behavior screening work in your practice

Glascoe FP, Schonwald A, Trimm F, Marks K.
Published In: Contemporary Pediatrics, 2009; 26(12): 38-45

This article covers the many issues that need to be addressed before deploying quality screening tools in primary care, including why clinicians should screen for developmental-behavioral problems, why informal measures including selected items from the Denver-II don’t work, how to chose an accurate screen and what tools are available, how to get staff enthused about screening, implementation planning, and billing/coding for optimal reimbursement


Feb 09, 2009

PEDS and ASQ Developmental Screening Tests May Not Identify the Same Children

Laura Sices, MD, MS, Terry Stancin, PhD, H. Lester Kirchner, PhD,, Howard Bauchner, MD
Published In: Pediatrics, 2009;124:e640–e647

OBJECTIVE: In analyzing data from a larger study, we noticed significant disagreement between results of 2 commonly used developmental screening tools (Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status [PEDS®; parent concern questionnaire] and Ages & Stages Questionnaires [ASQ; parent report of developmental skills]) delivered to children at the same visit in primary care. The screens have favorable reported psychometric properties and can be efficient to use in practice; how- ever, there is little comparative information about the relative performance of these tools in primary care. We sought to describe the agreement between the 2 screens in this setting.

METHODS: Parents of 60 children aged 9 to 31 months completed PEDS® and ASQ screens at the same visit. Concordance (PEDS® and ASQ results agree) and discordance (results differ) for the 2 screens were determined.

RESULTS: The mean age of children was 17.6 months, 77% received Medicaid, and 50% of parents had a high school education or less. Overall, 37% failed the PEDS® and 27% failed the ASQ. Thirty-one children passed (52%) both screens; 9 (15%) failed both; and 20 (33%) failed 1 but not the other (13 PEDS® and 7 ASQ). Agreement between the 2 screening tests was only fair, statistically no different from agreement by chance.

CONCLUSIONS: There was substantial discordance between PEDS® and ASQ developmental screens. Although these are preliminary data, clinicians need to be aware that in implementing revised American Academy of Pediatrics screening guidelines, the choice of screening instrument may affect which children are likely to be identified for additional evaluation.

Comment from Dr. Glascoe: PEDS® and the ASQ have very different measurement methods. PEDS® identifies, in addition to developmental delays, developmental disorders (meaning children who accomplish milestones on time but…’ something is still clearly wrong’, such as mangled syntax, restricted social interests, etc.). PEDS® also identifies mental health and physical health issues, as well as parents’ needs for information and training (e.g., some parental concerns about expressive language are statements such as “I don’t know what a 6 month old should be able to do”. While this automatically places children on a moderate risk path, it also serves as an important alert to clinicians to monitor development carefully and also provide parents critically needed advice on how to promote development).

The ASQ, in contrast, is designed to identify developmental delays. In its 3rd edition, the ASQ also includes prompts encouraging parents to express their perceptions about child-rearing and other issues.

We should not expect the results of each measure to overlap completely. Indeed PEDS® calls for use of a measure like the ASQ or PEDS®: Developmental Milestones in some 20% of cases– in order to verify children’s and families needs for developmental and other interventions. The ASQ, in turn, calls for completion of the ASQ: Social-Emotional when children have difficulty on the ASQ.

In any case, both measures pick up nearly 80% of children with various difficulties.

Feb 02, 2009

Routine Developmental Screening Implemented in Urban Primary Care

Alison Schonwald, MD, Noelle Huntington, PhD, Eugenia Chan, MD, MPH, Wanessa Risko, MD, DS, Carolyn Bridgemohan, MD
Published In: Pediatrics, Vol. 123 No. 2, February 2009, pp. 660-668 (doi:10.1542/peds)

Settings: More Evidence of Feasibility and Effectiveness a Divisions of Developmental Medicine b General Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital Boston, Boston, Massachusetts c Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

OBJECTIVES:The purpose of this study was to examine the feasibility and effectiveness of implementation of validated developmental screening by using the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status in 2 urban pediatric practices.

DESIGN AND METHODS: We implemented the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status at Boston Children’s Hospital Primary Care Center and at Joseph Smith Community Health Center as quality improvement initiatives. Each practice offered screening to all of the patients attending well-child care visits between 6 months and 8 years of age. The implementation process was investigated by using preimplementation and postimplementation surveys and a focus group of pediatric primary care providers. To assess outcomes, such as changes in identification rates and referrals for developmental and behavioral concerns, we reviewed medical charts of all of the 2- and 3-year-olds present at Children’s Hospital Primary Care Center well-child care visits in the periods before and after screening implementation.

RESULTS: Providers found routine screening easier than expected and feasible to conduct in a busy primary care setting. The practice change resulted in screening of 61.6% of eligible children. Compared with same-aged children before screening, after screening was implemented more behavioral concerns were detected in the 2-year-old group, and more children with developmental concerns were identified in the 3-year-old group. Referral rates for additional evaluation increased only for 3-year-olds, although the types of referrals (ie, audiology and early intervention) were consistent as those found before screening started.

CONCLUSIONS: Implementation of validated screening by using the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status was feasible in large, urban settings. Effectiveness was demonstrated via chart review documenting an increased rate of identification of developmental and behavioral concerns. Perceived obstacles, such as the time requirement, should not prevent widespread adoption of screening.

May 01, 2008

Effect of the PEDS Screener and Parent Activation Video on Parent-Physician Communication About Child Development

L. Sices, A. Keilman, H.L. Kirchner, D. Roberts, T. Stancin
Pediatrics, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, PA, Pediatrics, MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland, OH.

BACKGROUND: The AAP recommends periodic administration of standardized developmental screens during well child visits to facilitate identification of developmental delays. However, little is known about how parents and physicians communicate about development, or how screening impacts communication.


  1. To describe communication about development between parents and pediatricians.
  2. To determine effect on communication of PEDS® parent concern screener, with or without video presentation on developmental skills.

DESIGN/METHODS: 6 primary care pediatricians in Ohio participated. 15 parents of children 9-31 mos of age per pediatrician were assigned to 1 of 3 groups:

  1. usual care;
  2. parent completed PEDS® screener; or
  3. parent completed PEDS® after viewing 5-minute video on development, importance of parent input, and Early Intervention (EI). 89 visits were audiotaped and coded by blinded raters using a classification system of communication content. Inter-rater reliability was established by comparing 2 raters’ coding of 19 tapes. Outcomes:
    1. visit length;
    2. physicians: # of open-ended questions about development or health; and close-ended questions, information giving, reassurance or counseling about development;
    3. parents: # of developmental or health questions or concerns; and
    4. requests for developmental services. Group means were adjusted for clustering by physician using mixed model methods.

RESULTS: Mean child age 17.1 mos; 77% Medicaid insured. Mean visit duration was similar for the 3 groups. Physicians: no difference in use of open or close-ended questions or statements of reassurance; but more information-giving and counseling statements about development, and more developmental concerns raised in group 3 (PEDS® plus video) than 1 (usual care) (p<0.05). Parents: no difference in developmental or health-related questions, but more likely to raise a developmental concern in group 3 than 1 (p<0.05), but not group 2 (PEDS® only). No parent requested EI. Overall, 4 children were referred to EI, 3 from group 3.

CONCLUSIONS: Use of the PEDS® did not increase mean visit duration. Although the PEDS® alone did not change parent-physician communication in this inner-city sample, addition of a brief parent activation video was associated with an increase in physician and parent communication about developmental concerns. Most children referred to EI were in the PEDS® plus video group, suggesting an effect from this intervention.

Comments from Frances Glascoe: I’m a bit confused by this one as to whether Dr. Sices counted the concerns raised on PEDS® or just any new concerns raised AFTER the administration PEDS®. And…whether these were first time administrations of PEDS® (in which parents are a bit more quiet than they are the second time through). I’ll update this as the more information comes my way. Anyway, the visit length issue is interesting–as is the fact that we really need to encourage parents to talk with providers.

May 01, 2008

Evaluation Rates of Children Identified by Routine Developmental Screening

Alison Schonwald, Noelle Huntington, Kirsten Witt, Taylor Silver, Joanne Cox
Division of Developmental Medicine, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, Division of General Pediatrics, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.

BACKGROUND: The AAP recommends routine primary care screening to identify children at risk for developmental concerns. However, there is no published data with rates of successful evaluation of children with positive screening results.

OBJECTIVE: To determine if use of a validated developmental screener led to needed evaluations for at-risk children, and the factors associated with completed follow-up.

DESIGN/METHODS: Setting: The PEDS® was implemented at a large, urban clinic.

Subjects: In the first 9 mos of screening children under 9 yrs, 1861 were screened and 224 (12%) referred for evaluation of a new developmental concern.

Methods: Follow-up data on 171 of the 224 children referred for further evaluation were collected by parent interview (46) and/or chart review (125). Parents were asked if the evaluation recommended was completed; probes clarified reasons for failure to follow up. A structured abstraction form was used to extract chart data comparable to that elicited from direct interview. As 71% of referrals were to in-hospital services, chart review data was accurate for tracking completed referrals; determining why those patients failed to follow up was more difficult. Bivariate analyses were performed.

RESULTS: New referrals were evenly distributed across ages. Of newly referred children, 59% were male, 86% had public insurance. The most common parent concerns were expressive language (63%) and behavior (40%). Most children (59%) received more than 1 referral, usually audiology and developmental testing. Only 71 (42%) of those referred were subsequently evaluated. Boys were twice as likely as girls to complete evaluations (χ2,1=12.19;p<0.001). Children whose parent had more than 1 concern were more likely to be evaluated than those whose parent had 1 concern (χ2,1=4.61;p=0.03). There was no difference in ages of children who were or were not evaluated. We collected data on reasons for non-evaluation of 66 of the 100 children not evaluated. 28 of those 66 (42%) missed or cancelled an evaluation appointment. Parents of another 11 children (17%) reported believing the referral was unnecessary.

CONCLUSIONS: Fewer than 1/2 of children identified with risk via a validated developmental screener completed the evaluation recommended. For routine screening to succeed in its mission, pediatric practices should take an active role to ensure that referral appointments are made and kept, and to educate parents on the importance of further evaluation.

Comment from Frances Glascoe: Dr.Schonwald and colleagues showed that if appointments were made for parents rather than by parents, they were more likely to keep them. That boys were more likely to be referred was a surprise to all of us who heard her presentation. She pointed out that boys are more likely to have behavioral problems and that this might goad parents into making/keeping appointments but speculation that families have a greater achievement orientation for boys than was also entertained understandably and sadly. An additional point of discussion was that service-seeking by parents is a process. Some need time to adjust, while some feel they should try to intervene on their own and need time to observe when progress is less than ideal. Only then do some decide that help is needed. Surely tolerance among professionals for variations in alacrity in getitng to early intervention is worthwhile, but assisting families in making appointments, and checking on their progress toward early intervention services is clearly beneficial.

Oct 01, 2006

Study Report: Screening for developmental problems among preschool-aged children

The Community Perinatal Care (CPC) Study was initiated by the Conception to Age Five Working Group of The Calgary Children’s Initiative. The working group consisted of representatives from the Calgary Health Region, City of Calgary, child and youth serving community agencies, Calgary Board of Education, Alberta Health and Wellness, University of Calgary, Mount Royal College, and immigrant serving agencies. The Working Group developed the study to address the goal of The Calgary Children’s Initiative that “All babies are born healthy” and to address the recommendations from a Calgary Health Region report which suggested that redesign of prenatal care may lead to improved access to resources.

The CPC study was a prospective randomized controlled trial of pregnant women attending one of three family physician low risk maternity practices within the Calgary Health Region. 2,015 women were randomly assigned to receive one of the following: 1) standard of care at the prenatal clinics (control); 2) standard of care plus consultation with a registered Nurse: or 3) standard of care plus consultation with a Nurse and a Home Visitor. Participants completed a baseline interview, as well as interviews at mid-pregnancy and eight weeks post-partum. The primary results showed that, compared to women in the control group, women who had Nurse or Nurse plus Home Visitor supports were more likely to:

  1. Use community-based resources (such as prenatal classes, parenting classes, breastfeeding supports, nutritional counseling).
  2. Report having a health care worker provide information on pregnancy-related topics.

The full results of the CPC study can be found in an earlier report.

Approximately three years post partum, a follow-up telephone questionnaire was conducted with the original CPC cohort. The questionnaire was designed to learn about parenting, child health, development, health care utilization, and well-being. Data from the CPC follow up questionnaire are the subject of this report.

Apr 01, 2005

Parents’ evaluation of developmental status in children born with a birthweight of 1250 g or less

Pritchard MA, Colditz PB, Beller EM
Queensland Optimising Preterm Infant Outcomes Group
Published In: Paediatric Child Health, 2005 Apr;41(4):191-6.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the agreement between parental reporting of development of children born very preterm using the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®) questionnaire and professional assessment by a paediatric developmental team in the detection of sensorineural disability.

METHODS: A cross-sectional cohort study of 362 children born in Queensland with a birthweight < or = 1250 g, who were surviving at 2 and 4 years of age corrected for prematurity, was conducted. Parents completed the PEDS® questionnaire prior to their child receiving a neurodevelopmental assessment. The level of agreement for sensorineural disability between the neurodevelopmental assessment and the parents' score on the PEDS® questionnaire was measured using the kappa statistic, and screening test characteristics were calculated. Logistic regression was used to investigate factors that might affect agreement.

RESULTS: Two hundred and eighty-three (78%) of the eligible children were located and contacted. Of these, 216 (76%) agreed to participate in the study (110, 2-year-olds; 106, 4-year-olds). Agreement between the two forms of rating sensorineural disability (developmental quotient > -2SD (standard deviation), cerebral palsy, bilateral blindness and deafness requiring aids) for the 4-year age group children was fair (kappa = 0.27, P = 0.001). PEDS® accurately identified 69% (11 of 16) of disabled children and 72% (65 of 90) non-disabled children. The test characteristics for these children were similar to Glascoe’s norming sample with a PPV 31% (95% CI: 14-48%), specificity 72% (95% CI: 62-81%), but lower sensitivity 69% (95% CI: 62-81%) and higher false-negative rate 31% (95% CI: 11, 59). Agreement for the 2-year age group was fair with poor test characteristics. Other comparisons for both age groups (PEDS® A and B compared using a disability status with DQ > -1SD) showed poor agreement and test characteristics. Gestation age < 27 weeks and maternal education at or below grade 10 in the 2-year age group were the only factors independently affecting agreement.

CONCLUSIONS: The agreement between parental evaluation of sensorineural disability status using PEDS® and paediatrics developmental assessment in children born very preterm at 4-years corrected age for prematurity compares favourably with Glascoe’s norming sample. The lower agreement seen in the 2-year age group limits the utility of PEDS® to be used as a screen for disability at an age when early intervention may be useful. The PEDS® questionnaire is designed and normed for the general paediatric population, and it is not clear if parents of children born very preterm may have interpreted the PEDS® questionnaire in relation to their satisfaction with their child’s developmental progress rather than their child’s functional ability.

Comment from Dr. Glascoe: The authors were gracious enough to share their data. Problems in the administration of PEDS® were numerous: a) many children were previously diagnosed and receiving intervention, but were not excluded from the study or elevated to Path A (per PEDS® Brief Guide directions). In this study, 6 were previously diagnosed and 4 of the 6 were already in services; b) the authors did not re-administer PEDS® by interview if nothing was written on the Response Form (ahem)! This problem occurred with 13% of cases (N = 19/144), and; c) clinician/researchers did not add their own concerns from observations or physical exam, i.e., over-ride PEDS® scoring if clinical judgment indicated a problem.The consequences for reported sensitivity/specificity.

Had PEDS® been scored correctly, 30 out of 34 children with a diagnosis of CP or intellectual deficits ( > 1sd below average), would have received Path A or B results, i.e., sensitivity = 88%. Parents whose children did not have a diagnosis also had high levels of worry (often about language, or described features of ASD and so forth). So, specificity was understandably low (59/163 = 36%).

Bottom line, researchers need to read the manuals and adhere to the directions for each test under study–both screening and diagnostic tools. Although this recommendation sounds axiomatic, it needs reiterating!

Below is a letter to the editor about this paper. In general, children with previously identified disabilities do not need screening and should either be excluded from validation studies using PEDS® or automatically elevated to Path A when a developmental diagnosis is described. Parents, if satisfied with services, may not raise concerns, understandably:

Dear Editor,

The article by Drs Pritchard, Colditz and Beller entitled, ‘Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status’ (PEDS®) in children born with a birthweight of 1250 g or less (J. Paediatr. Child Health 2005; 41: 191–6) involved use of a screening and surveillance tool I authored, known informally as PEDS®.1 I congratulate the authors on a potentially helpful study and offer several suggestions for explaining their findings and planning additional analyses:

  1. The authors attempted to view whether PEDS® identified children with cerebral palsy. Although this is valuable, PEDS® is designed, in contrast, to identify children eligible for special education.
  2. In the USA, cerebral palsy alone is not sufficient for placement in special classes. Rather, children qualify under the category of physical impairment only if they show motor disabilities in addition to deficits in intelligence, adaptive behaviour and/or academic/preacademic skills, that is, their difficulties must interfere with school success or its likelihood. As a consequence, parental concerns about communication and cognition have stronger predictive value than do gross motor concerns. If the criteria for special education placement are different in Australia, then Drs Pritchard et al. are encouraged to consider whether a different constellation of parental concerns as elicited by PEDSwould perform more effectively.
  3. If detection of cerebral palsy with or without other developmental deficits is, in fact, a goal for Australian children, it might be wise to evaluate whether parents of children with cerebral palsy describe motor development in a way that could be discerned from parents with motor concerns but whose children are developing in a typical fashion. For example, statements such as, ‘my four month old is very strong and can stand for hours’; ‘she holds her body in an odd way’; ‘she keeps her legs stretched out and crossed all the time’; ‘he’s like a rag doll’, all might be clues to the presence of spasticity, scissoring, persistence of primitive reflexes, hypotonicity etc. Drs Pritchard et al. are encouraged to make use of their rich dataset to consider secondary, qualitative analyses of the concerns of parents whose children have cerebral palsy.
  4. It may be unnecessary to point out that screening tests do not need to be deployed with children with previously identified disabilities. In the US validation studies, 25% of families whose children were already enrolled in special education, did not raise concerns on PEDS®. Drs Pritchard et al. speculate sagely that satisfaction with services may reduce or eliminate the parental concerns. It is also likely that parents whose children have known disabilities come to view their child’s development in a relativistic and incremental manner – comparing current progress, however slow, only to past performance – and not, as most parents do, by comparing their child to other children. This would make for an interesting longitudinal study and one that is also encouraged. Some evidence for marked early differences in the perspective of parents whose children have known disabilities is found in a study in which parents of 2-year-old children were asked to predict adult outcome. Parents of non-disabled children consistently predicted quite exalted futures, a phenomenon the researchers dubbed, ‘Presidential syndrome’. In contrast, parents of children with cerebral palsy and/or mental retardation, simply predicted their child would become an average, normal adult.
  5. Although both sets of predictions may be unlikely, they do suggest early and significant differences in the views of parents whose children have disabilities.
  6. Finally, PEDS® is not only a screening test, it is also a surveillance tool. As such, it calls for, when making referral decisions, provider input including results of a physical exam, medical history, observations and/or knowledge of the family. The PEDS® Brief Guide to Scoring and Administration states, ‘If parents have no concerns or nonpredictive concerns but clinical judgment suggests the presence of a problem, follow Path A or B’ (the two planks of the PEDS® algorithm denoting increased risk and need for additional assessment (p. 6)). Had the authors followed this recommendation, their sensitivity findings would have been substantially higher. I am happy to assist the authors with additional analyses of their and in formulating hypotheses for future research.


  1. Glascoe FP. Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®). Nashville, TN: Ellsworth & Vandermeer Press, 1997.
  2. Glascoe FP. Collaborating with Parents: Using Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status to Detect and Address Developmental and Behavioral Problems. Nashville, TN: Ellsworth & Vandermeer Press, 1998;
  3. l.Shapiro DM, Ostroff JS, Howe GW. Parents’ beliefs about the severity and permanence of their child’s handicap. In: Proceedings of the 19th Annual Gatlinburg Conference on Research and Theory in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities; 13–15 March 1986, Gatlinburg, TN.

Frances Page Glascoe
Department of Pediatrics,
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN, USA

Related Links:
Pritchard And Letter (PDF)

Mar 01, 2003

How well do parents’ concerns identify children with behavioral and emotional problems

Published In: Clinical Pediatrics, 42, March 2003 no. 2 133-138

This study was undertaken to determine which parental concerns are most associated with significant behavioral/emotional problems and the extent to which parents’ concerns can be depended on in the detection of mental health problems. An additional goal is to view how well a recently published screening test relying on parents’ concerns, Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®), detects behavioral and emotional problems.

Subjects were a national sample of 472 parents and their children (21 months to 8 years old) who were participants in 1 of 2 test standardization and validation studies. Sites included various pediatric settings, public schools, and Head Start programs in 5 diverse geographic locations. Subjects were representative of U.S. demographics in terms of ethnicity, parental level of education, gender, and socioeconomic status. At each site, psychological examiners, educational diagnosticians, or school psychologists recruited families, and obtained informed consent. Examiners disseminated a demographics questionnaire (in English or Spanish) and a developmental screening test that relies on parents’ concerns (PEDS®).

Examiners were blinded to PEDS®’ scoring and interpretation administered either by interview or in writing, the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory (ECBI) or the Possible Problems Checklist (PPC), a subtest of the Child Development Inventory that includes items measuring emotional well-being and behavioral selfcontrol. PEDS® was used to sort children into risk for developmental disabilities according to various types of parental concern. Those identified as having high or moderate risk were nominated for diagnostic testing or screening followed by developmental and mental health services when indicated. Because their emotional and behavioral needs would have been identified and addressed, these groups were removed from the analysis (N = 177). Of the 295 children who would not have been nominated for further scrutiny on PEDS® due to their low risk of developmental problems, 102 had parents with concerns not predictive of developmental disabilities (e.g., behavior, social skills, self-help skills) and 193 had no concerns at all. Of the 295 children, 12% had scores on either the ECBI or the PPC indicative of mental health problems.

Two parental concerns were identified through logistic regression as predictive of mental health status: behavior (OR = 4.74, CI = 1.69-13.30); and social skills (OR = 5.76, CI = 2.46-13.50). If one or more of these concerns was present, children had 8.5 times the risk of mental health problems (CI = 3.69-19.71) In children 434 years of age and older, one or both concerns was 87% sensitive and 79% specific to mental health status, figures keeping with standards for screening test accuracy. In young children, the presence of one or both concerns was 68% sensitive and 66% specific to mental health status. The findings suggest that certain parental concerns, if carefully elicited, can be depended on to detect mental health problems when children are 41 years and older and at low risk of developmental problems. For younger children, clinicians should counsel parents in disciplinary techniques, follow up, and if suggestions were not effective, administer a behavioral-emotional screening test such as the Pediatric Symptoms Checklist or the ECBI before making a referral decision.

Glascoe FP.
Vanderbilt University, USA.

Related Links:
Parents’ evaluation of developmental status: how well do parents’ concerns identify children with behavioral and emotional problems?

May 01, 2002

Does ‘Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS)’ at School Entry Predict Language, Achievement and Quality of Life 2 Years Later?

Melissa Wake, Bibi Gerner, Susan Gallagher
Published In: Ambulatory Pediatrics (as of 2009) continued as Academic Pediatrics, 2005;5:143-149

OBJECTIVE: We studied the accuracy of the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS®) at school entry in predicting academic, language, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) outcomes 2 years later.

DESIGN/METHOD: Prospective population study in elementary schools in Melbourne, Australia. Base Population. A total of 1591 school entry children who participated in a separate cross-sectional study. Cases. One hundred seventy-three children randomly selected from those with significant parental developmental concerns. Controls. One hundred twenty-nine children without significant parental development concerns.

Predictors (1997). Parents completed all 10 PEDS® items; teachers completed 5 PEDS® items. Outcomes (1999). The PEDS® and the Child Health Questionnaire (parents) and the Comprehensive Inventory of Basic Skills-Revised and the Renfrew Action Picture Test of language (children). Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated for low outcome scores, defined as >1.0 standard deviation below the mean or <16th centile.

RESULTS: At outcome, case parents reported more “significant” concerns on the PEDS® than did control parents (65% vs 26%, OR 5.3), but mean language and academic scores were only slightly lower for case children. Parent-reported self-help and school skills concerns predicted low language (ORs 2.1-2.8) and academic (ORs 1.3-6.6) scores. Teacher concerns about early school skills predicted low academic scores (ORs 3.7-4.7). However, sensitivity and specificity values were modest. Baseline developmental concerns predicted poor scores on a number of domains of HRQoL 2 years later.

CONCLUSIONS: Although individual developmental concerns at school entry variably predict later academic and language scores, sensitivity and specificity values would not support use of the PEDS® as a stand-alone screen to detect later problems.

Comments: In the study, parents of five-year-olds were administered PEDS1 and their children’s academic and language outcomes viewed two years later. Fifty-four percent of the sample consisted of children whose parents held concerns associated with high rates of developmental disabilities.2 Why did the authors not track what happened in the time elapsed? Other than in-grade retention, the study does not account for such interventions as homework assistance, tutoring, remedial programs, summer school, or even special education placement. Given the strong association between parents’ discussion of concerns and children’s receipt of interventions, it seems likely that many parents would have taken actions leading to improvements in their children’s outcomes.3 If so, the long-term predictive power of PEDS® would have been masked. It would have been particularly helpful had the authors had assessed performance on concurrent measures at age 5 and compared this to performance at age 7 in order to account for positive trajectories. In any case, failure to account for interventions during the two-year interval, is a serious limitation in the study and should be carefully addressed.

For a more detailed discussion of issues to consider in predictive validity studies, please see this article written by several screening test authors and research:

The Thorny Nature of Predictive Validity Studies on Screening Tests for Developmental-Behavioral Problems PEDIATRICS Vol. 122 No. 4 October 2008, pp. 866-868 (doi:10.1542/peds.2007-3142)

Kevin Marks, MDa, Frances Page Glascoe, PhDb, Glen P. Aylward, PhDc, Michael I. Shevell, MDd, Paul H. Lipkin, MDe,f, Jane K. Squires, PhD

The Thorny Nature of Predictive Validity Studies on Screening Tests for Developmental-Behavioral Problems

Related Files:
Predictive Validity

Mar 26, 2000

Evidence-based approach to developmental and behavioural surveillance using parents’ concerns

Glascoe FP
Published In: Child Care Health Dev., 2000 Mar;26(2):137-49

Half of all children with disabilities are not identified before school entrance, which precludes their participation in early intervention programs. Such programs have known value in reducing high school drop-out rates, increasing employment, delaying child-bearing and reducing criminal behaviour. Although there are many screening tests that can greatly improve detection rates, these have not been popular in primary care due to test length, difficulty managing children’s behaviour, etc. An alternative is to carefully elicit and interpret parents’ concerns. Research shows that parents’ concerns are as accurate as quality screening tests and that parents are equally able to raise important concerns regardless of differences in education and child-rearing experience. Parents’ concerns can be elicited quickly and 92% of parents can answer questions in writing while in exam or waiting rooms. Unlike screening tests, use of parents’ concerns facilitates an evidenced-based approach to comprehensive surveillance and aids in making a range of other important decisions about children’s developmental and behavioural needs. These include when to: offer suggestions on developmental promotion; watch children more vigilantly; screen for emotional and behavioural problems; advise families about behaviour management; offer reassurance and routine monitoring of development that is likely normal; administer a second screening test; or refer for additional testing and the kinds of testing needed.