Developmental Screening Disparities for Languages Other than English and Spanish

Published:December 23, 2015DOI:



      Limited English proficiency (LEP) is a known barrier to preventive care. Children from families with LEP face socioeconomic circumstances associated with increased odds of developmental delays and decreased participation in early care and education programs. Little is known about developmental surveillance and screening for children from families who speak languages other than English and Spanish. We sought to compare developmental surveillance and screening at well-child visits (WCVs) by preferred parental language.


      Using a retrospective cohort (n = 15,320) of children aged 8 to 40 months with ≥2 WCVs from January 1, 2006, to July 1, 2010, in a community health system, 450 children from 3 language groups (150 English, 150 Spanish, and 150 non-English, non-Spanish) were randomly selected. Chart review assessed 2 primary outcomes, developmental surveillance at 100% of WCVs and screened with a standardized developmental screening tool, and also determined whether children were referred for diagnostic developmental evaluation. Bivariate and multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted.


      Compared to the English-speaking group, the non-English, non-Spanish group had lower odds of receiving developmental surveillance at 100% of WCVs (odds ratio, 0.3; 95% confidence interval, 0.2, 0.5) and of being screened with a standardized developmental screening tool (odds ratio, 0.1; 95% confidence interval, 0.1, 0.2). There were no differences between the English- and Spanish-speaking groups. Though underpowered, no differences were found for referral.


      Improved developmental surveillance and screening are needed for children from families who speak languages other than English and Spanish. Lack of statistically significant differences between English- and Spanish-speaking groups suggests that improved translation and interpretation resources may decrease disparities.


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