Objective: Parent knowledge about developmental disabilities (DDs) may facilitate access to DD care; however, parents may vary in their knowledge and familiarity with common DDs. This study aimed to assess racial/ethnic and language differences in low-income families' familiarity, knowledge, and personal experience with DDs.
Methods: We conducted a child development survey among 539 low-income parents of young children attending visits at the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in 6 Oregon counties in 2015. Survey items assessed parent familiarity with early signs of DDs, self-reported knowledge about DDs, and personal experience with a friend or family member with a DD. Bivariable and multivariable analyses assessed differences in outcomes among non-Latino white (white), Latino English-proficient (Latino-EP), Latino limited-English-proficient (Latino-LEP), and non-Latino other race English-proficient (other race) parents.
Results: Overall, parent participants correctly identified 64.7% of early signs of DDs. White parents correctly identified the most early signs, even after adjustment for sociodemographic factors. Compared with white parents, Latino-LEP, Latino-EP, and other race parents were less likely to have heard of prevalent DDs, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism, and less likely to have a friend or family member with a DD.
Conclusions: Low-income Latino-LEP and other race parents have less familiarity or personal experience with DDs and are less aware of early signs of DDs compared to low-income white parents. Study findings suggest that interventions to reduce disparities in DD diagnosis and treatment should include increasing information transfer to parents in racial/ethnic and language minority communities.
Keywords: Children; Infants; Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women; child development; developmental disabilities; health care disparities; health services accessibility.
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