Language and social/emotional problems identified at a universal developmental assessment at 30 months
1 Institute of Health and Wellbeing, College of Medical, Veterinary and Health Sciences, University of Glasgow, Caledonia House, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow, Yorkhill, G3 8SJ, UK
2 Public Health, NHS GG&C, Glasgow, UK
3 Communication & Language Sciences, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, UK
4 NHS GG&C, Glasgow, UK
5 Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
6 Centre for Rural Health, University of Aberdeen, Centre for Health Sciences, Old Perth Rd, Inverness, IV2 3JH, Scotland
BMC Pediatrics 2013, 13:206 doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-206Published: 13 December 2013
Preschool language and neurodevelopmental problems often persist and impede learning. The aims of the current study are to assess the uptake of a new universal 30 month health visitor contact and to quantify the prevalence of language delay and social/emotional difficulties.
All families of 30 month old children in four Glasgow localities were offered a visit from their health visitor. Structured data were collected relating to language, social and emotional development using three instruments; The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), the abbreviated Sure Start Language Measure and a two-item language screen.
From an eligible population of 543 children, there was a 90% return rate of contact forms from the health visitors, and assessments were completed on 78% of eligible children. Visit completion rates did not differ significantly by socio-economic status. 3-8% of children were reported to have language delay depending on the method of assessment. 8.8% of children scored in the “abnormal” range of SDQ total difficulties scores and 31.1% had an abnormality in at least one subscale. There was substantial overlap between language delay and abnormal scores on the SDQ.
Universal assessment of neurodevelopmental function at 30 months identified a significant proportion of children, including those previously considered at low risk, with both language and social/emotional difficulties. Further work is required to assess the precise nature of these difficulties and to assess the potential impact on services.