Children with developmental and behavioural concerns in Singapore

Singapore Med J. 2012 Jul;53(7):439-45.


Introduction: Childhood developmental and behavioural disorders (CDABD) have been increasingly recognised in recent years. This study evaluated the profiles and outcomes of children referred for developmental and behavioural concerns to a tertiary child developmental centre in Singapore. This is the first such regional database.

Methods: Baseline information, obtained through a questionnaire, together with history at first consultation, provided information for referral, demographic and presentation profiles. Clinical formulations were then made. Definitive developmental and medical diagnoses, as well as outcomes based on clinical assessment and standardised testing, were recorded at one year post first consultation.

Results: Out of 1,304 referrals between January 1, 2003 and December 1, 2004, 45% were 2-4 years old and 74% were boys. The waiting time from referral to first consultation exceeded four months in 52% of children. Following clinical evaluation, 7% were found to be developmentally appropriate. The single most common presenting concern was speech and language (S&L) delay (29%). The most common clinical developmental diagnosis was autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (30%), followed by isolated S&L disorder, global developmental delay (GDD) and cognitive impairment (CI). Recommendations included S&L therapy (57%), occupational therapy (50%) and psychological/behavioural services (40%). At one year, ASD remained the most common definitive developmental diagnosis (31%), followed by S&L disorder, CI and GDD. Most were children with high-prevalence, low-moderate severity disorders who could potentially achieve fair-good prognosis with early intervention.

Conclusion: Better appreciation of the profile and outcome of children with CDABD in Singapore could enable better resource planning for diagnosis and intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / epidemiology
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / therapy
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Developmental Disabilities / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Registries
  • Singapore
  • Speech Disorders / epidemiology
  • Speech Disorders / therapy
  • Speech Therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome