Early Childhood Development: A Paradigm Shift From Developmental Screening and Surveillance to Parent Intervention Programs.

Peer-reviewed article
(2021 Nov) Indian Pediatr, 58 Suppl 1 S64-S68


Mukherjee SB, Aneja S, Sharma S, Kapoor D


A large proportion of children under the age of five years who do not attain their expected developmental potential belong to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The strategies used for identifying children with high risk for developmental delay/disorders include developmental screening, surveillance, and monitoring. Suitability criteria for developmental screening tools in LMICs have been established, but few tools meet all the benchmarks. Based on these, the authors identified two tools that may be considered suitable in the Indian context; the International guide for monitoring child development and the Monitoring child development in the integrated management of childhood illnesses context. However, implementing and sustaining a universal developmental screening program using these is not feasible in the present circumstances. There is emerging evidence that parent intervention programs have significant impact on outcomes related to early childhood development (ECD). The nurturing care framework encompasses five strategies known to enhance ECD in young children even in the presence of adversities; good health, adequate nutrition, responsive caregiving, opportunities for early learning and safety and security. This article discusses the paradigm shift to incorporation of nurturing care-based preventive, supportive and promotive health care services in office practice with active parental involvement. This may prove to be a better option with a more positive, long lasting and quicker impact on ECD.