While more than twice as many pediatricians reported in 2009 that they were doing at least one developmental screening than in 2002, more than half still weren't participating in standardized developmental tests.
Time was probably the biggest reason that doctors gave for not doing formal developmental screenings, said Sand-Loud.
Also, some doctors may feel that they can spot any developmental problems by simply watching the child during the visit and talking to the parents, she said. "But that still misses a big portion of kids with developmental delays," Sand-Loud said.
Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., agreed. "Even though parental concerns will often help pediatricians identify most children with developmental problems, the goal of developmental screening is also to identify children with less severe, but nonetheless significant developmental delays that may not be recognized by parents or pediatricians without formal screening."
He said that he thinks more pediatricians will soon be using formal developmental screenings. Electronic medical records and recent changes in insurance company reimbursements will likely help more pediatricians add these tests to their practices, he added.
Sand-Loud said current recommendations call for developmental screening at nine, 18 and either 24 or 30 months during well-child visits.
But if parents have any concerns, they should let their pediatrician know, she said.
Parents may notice emerging issues with their children, but may "let others reassure them that it's nothing, or they may rationalize it themselves. But it's worthwhile to be proactive. Your family doctor or pediatrician is a good resource, and families should feel comfortable bringing up developmental conc
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