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26 July 2017
RUC2014 Blog 12: Parents could play a vital role in developmental screening of rural children to allow for early intervention. Print
Friday, 27 February 2015 10:28

How can research contribute to parent-centered developmental screening of children? This article, first published by University of Ghana, is a result of part of a Research Uptake Communications [RUC2014] coaching programme.

 

This blog, from University of Ghana, is the twelfth in this blog series. More information about the RUC 2014 campaign can be found here

The information featured in this blog is drawn from published, peer-reviewed development research that was strategically selected by University of Ghana leadership to align with DFID’s mission of ‘contributing to unlocking the potential of girls and women in Sub-Saharan Africa'.

Given a lack of routine screening in rural welfare clinics in Ghana, parent- centered developmental screening of children under the age of five years could pave way for early detection of Developmental Disorders, with a view to contribute to the overall health care needs of children in Ghana.

 

Screening allows for key interventions

Lack of screening of children under the age of five in rural areas of Ghana affects developmental delays (DD) in children. Periodic screening could avert the incidence of disability among children, however, such routine programmes are yet to take off in rural welfare clinics in Ghana.

Developmental screening is a globally adopted measure by which children at various set ages (2 to 60 months) are routinely assessed to detect those at high risk for significant unsuspected deviation from normal. The screening forms part of the key components in preventive care of children with a view to facilitate early identification and referral of the affected infants and children who need early intervention.

“Periodic screening could avert the incidence of disability among children, however, such routine programmes are yet to take off in rural welfare clinics in Ghana.”

No screening = late detection = intervention difficulties

Based on anecdotal observation, developmental screening for children from birth to five years of age is not commonly practiced as part of the services rendered at rural child welfare clinics in Ghana. This shortcoming is speculated to be the reason why children with disabilities are often detected late, and only when dysfunctions or inefficient movement behavior have already emerged. Identification of DD is exclusively done by health care professionals with little or no involvement of parents or caregivers. However, parents’ descriptions of children’s abilities have been reported to be generally reliable with correct suspicion of their children’s probable developmental abnormality. In a study of pre-school aged children referred for comprehensive pediatrics assessment, parents’ developmental concerns were confirmed for more than 90% of the children. This suggests a profound interest of parents in their children’s growth and development.

 

Developmental delay is significant amongst Ghanaian children under five

Our study on ‘Screening for developmental delay among children attending a rural clinic in Ghana’ interviewed mothers whose children were under the age of five who attended rural child welfare clinics. The children were screened to assess their gross motor skills, fine motor skills, communication skills, problem solving/cognition and social/personal interaction using Ages and Stages Questionnaire.An appreciable proportion of the children were found to experience developmental delays and the most prevalent occurrence was in personal/social interaction. Birth weight, gestational age and maternal educational level provide insight into a link with communication and gross motor skills. Birth weight and duration of gestation were significantly associated with communication domain while the level of education of the mothers and duration of gestation were significantly associated with gross motor domain.

“Identification of DD is exclusively done by health care professionals with little or no involvement of parents or caregivers. However, parents’ descriptions of children’s abilities have been reported to be generally reliable with correct suspicion of their children’s probable developmental abnormality”

Parents need to be empowered to play a key role

Given the shortage of health care personnel in most rural communities in which just a quarter of the nation’s health care facilities are located, introduction of parent-centered developmental screening of children under the age of five years may pave way for early detection of DD with a view to contribute to the overall health care needs of children in Ghana.

Read the full article “Screening for developmental delay among children attending a rural community welfare clinic in Ghana” here

 

The previous blog in the series can be found here and the next blog of the series is here

Communications
John Anoku
Research Development Officer
Dept. Research, Innovation & Development
University of Ghana
jkofianoku@ug.edu.gh

Researcher
Ajediran I. Bello
Lecturer
Department of Physiotherapy,
School of Allied Health Sciences      
University of Ghana
iabello@chs.edu.gh

www.ug.edu.gh


 

 

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