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Leading Early Childhood Development Nonprofit Applauds New Pediatric Milestones

CDC, AAP update guidelines for children meeting certain milestones for first time since 2004

This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a landmark announcement that developmental milestones for infants and toddlers are being adjusted for the first time in nearly two decades. ZERO TO THREE, the country’s leading early childhood nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life, applauded the decision as an important step in expanding early intervention services for children and ensuring better outcomes later in life.

“This important update will help parents and pediatric offices better care for their babies and toddlers now and in the future,” stated Rahil D. Briggs, PsyD, national director of ZERO TO THREE’s HealthySteps program. “By moving the expectation of children meeting specific milestones from 50 percent to 75 percent, we will be able to move away from ‘wait and see’ to a more direct and targeted approach. When we know what our children are facing, we can move toward earlier intervention and, ultimately, better outcomes.”

The announcement by the CDC and AAP updates developmental markers for the first time since they were initially released in 2004. With this update, the percentage of children expected to meet certain milestones is raised to 75 percent, meaning 25 percent of children would not be expected to meet those milestones by that age. This decision will change the way pediatricians and other public health specialists work with babies and toddlers, helping them to be more sensitive to potential concerns. In addition to improving ways to identify early signs of autism and other social-communication disabilities, the update adds new milestones for 15 and 30 months as well as indicators easily observed as part of daily life.

Early intervention is proven to be one of the fastest and most important pathways to improve outcomes for young children and is particularly effective when provided as early as possible. This work forms the foundation for HealthySteps’ efforts alongside pediatric partners in 25 states and over 200 sites. Children working with a HealthySteps Specialist are eight times more likely to receive a developmental assessment and have significantly higher rates of developmental and other nonmedical referrals.

To learn more about the importance of developmental screenings and early intervention, visit ZERO TO THREE’s website at zerotothree.org.

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