|RUC2014 Blog 12: Parents could play a vital role in developmental screening of rural children to allow for early intervention.|
|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.
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.
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.
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.