Cleveland, OH,
10:51 AM

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.

About The MetroHealth System

The MetroHealth System is redefining health care by going beyond medical treatment to improve the foundations of community health and well-being: affordable housing, a cleaner environment, economic opportunity and access to fresh food, convenient transportation, legal help and other services. The system strives to become as good at preventing disease as it is at treating it.

The system’s more than 600 doctors, 1,700 nurses and 7,800 employees go to work each day with a mission of service, to their patients and to the community. As Cuyahoga County’s safety-net health system, MetroHealth plays an essential role in the region, caring for anyone and everyone, regardless of an ability to pay.

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth operates four hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers throughout Cuyahoga County. The system serves more than 300,000 patients, three-quarters of whom are uninsured or covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

MetroHealth is home to Cuyahoga County’s most experienced Level I Adult Trauma Center, verified since 1992, and Ohio’s only adult and pediatric trauma and burn center. 

As an academic medical center, MetroHealth is committed to research and to teaching and training tomorrow’s caregivers. Each active staff physician holds a faculty appointment at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Its main campus hospital houses the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Lincoln-West School of Science & Health, the only high school in America located inside a hospital.

Knowing that good health is about much more than good medical care, MetroHealth has launched the Institute for H.O.P.E.™ (Health, Opportunity, Partnership, Empowerment), which uses a coordinated, collaborative and strategic approach to help patients with non-medical needs such as healthy food, stable housing and job training.

The MetroHealth Glick Center, a new 11-floor hospital, is under construction on the system’s main campus in Cleveland and is scheduled to welcome its first patients in October 2022. The billion-dollar project is the cornerstone of a wider neighborhood revitalization effort led by the system and its partners in the community.

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