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CDC Updates Infants and Children Developmental Milestone Checklist with Help from Julie Pajek, PhD


MetroHealth pediatric psychologist Julie Pajek, PhD, played a key role in the revision of important guidelines used by parents, caregivers and health care providers to assess whether children are developing certain skills and social cues during the first five years of their lives.

For the first time since 2004, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked to update its developmental milestone checklist, which outlines when infants and children are expected to do things like smile, take their first steps or talk. With the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC convened a working group of child development experts from around the country, including Dr. Pajek, to ensure the new guidelines were understandable, easily applied and grounded in research.

Notable changes to the list include adding guidelines for 15- and 30-month-olds to clarify expected social and emotional development at those ages. Perhaps most important, the organizations raised the percentage of kids who normally meet these milestones from 50% to 75% – a change Dr. Pajek and her colleagues hope will prompt more parents and caregivers to seek early intervention.

That 50% marker wasn’t particularly helpful, Dr. Pajek said, because it left such a wide gap between children on the verge of achieving certain milestones and those well behind where they’re expected to be.

“We’re missing so many kids,” Dr. Pajek said. “Less than a quarter of children with developmental delays get connected to early intervention services. The way our brains are structured are such that the most growth takes place from birth to age 3. We can learn the easiest during that time, which is why early intervention is so important.”

To learn more and read about the CDC’s developmental milestones, click here.

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