The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports the use and importance of developmental screening, and recommends that all children receive standardized screening as a part of well-child care. Despite research and increased policy, no national surveys have assessed whether pediatricians are using these screening tools.

In the study, "Trends in the Use of Standardized Tools for Developmental Screening in Early Childhood: 2002-2009," in the July 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online June 27), an AAP Periodic Survey of Fellows found the percentage of pediatricians using one or more screening tools more than doubled between 2002 and 2009 (from 23 percent to 47.7 percent).

Despite this increase, approximately half of the pediatricians reported that they do not routinely use the recommended screening tools for patients younger than 36 months. With growing evidence of the benefits of treatment, early screening is crucial to the identification of autism and other developmental disorders and intervention for these disorders. Current initiatives directed toward professional education, including Bright Futures initiatives, and improved payment for developmental screening can further promote the use of these tools in practice.

American Academy of Pediatrics