Early Diagnosis of Childhood Disabilities                  

& its Therapeutic Implications

Dr. Praveen Suman

Developmental Paediatrics



With the improvement in prenatal care there is sharp decline in infant mortality in the last decade. However, survival alone does not ensure complete developmental and social well-being for the child. In India , 10% of children are either born with or are at risk to develop one or the other type of disability.

With developmental disabilities on the rise, there is much that remains poorly understood, from cause to cure. However, there is one widely-accepted fact: Early and intensive intervention can have a profound impact on the quality of life for both children at risk and their families. The key is early detection and recognizing the signs of a developmental delay or disorder early,

For children with disabilities, the early years are critical for a number of reasons. First, the earlier a child is identified as having a developmental delay or disability, the greater the likelihood that the child will benefit from intervention strategies designed to compensate for the child's needs. Second, families benefit from the support given to them through the intervention process. .

While children with established conditions are usually recognized during the first weeks of life, children at risk for delay or disabilities can be identified at any time between the age of birth and five. It has been estimated that 30% of these children from "at-risk" groups subsequently demonstrate delays in development. Children who are at increased risk for developmental problems include

Children at established risk who are diagnosed with conditions known to result in disability or delay (e.g., genetic conditions).

Children at biological risk because of prenatal, prenatal or postnatal histories suggesting increased vulnerability to disability or delay (e.g., prematurity or birth trauma)

Children at environmental risk because of conditions in their surroundings which might result in disability or delay (e.g., poverty).

Developmental follow-up is advised for children at high-risk for developmental difficulties. No single, brief developmental screening test exists that can accurately identify all problems.

For children with complicated medical histories or early developmental delays, follow-up may be very time-consuming and expensive.

Periodic re-evaluation is important during infancy and early childhood as most developmental difficulties emerge slowly over time.

Medical history, current health, and rate of progress must be considered when interpreting any developmental test results.

Comprehensive follow-up includes ongoing communication with families and with other professionals to ensure that each child receives the most appropriate interventions as early as possible.


Dr. Praveen Suman

Consultant in Developmental Pediatrics

Sir Ganga Ram Hospital , New Delhi