Perceptions of Healthcare Providers and Caregivers Regarding Procedures for Early Detection of Developmental Delays in Infants and Toddlers in Saudi Arabia

Children (Basel). 2022 Nov 15;9(11):1753. doi: 10.3390/children9111753.


Background: This study aimed to explore current practices adopted by frontline healthcare providers for the early detection of developmental delays in infants and toddlers in Saudi Arabia, with a specific focus on motor and speech delays and caregivers' perceptions of early detection of developmental delays and their awareness of well-child visits.

Methods: Two cross-sectional surveys were conducted and distributed. The first survey was performed among healthcare providers who worked directly with infants and toddlers in the first 3 years of life, and the second survey was performed among caregivers of infants and toddlers who received healthcare services. Participants were recruited via online groups, social media platforms, and clinics.

Results: Overall, 60% of the healthcare providers played a role in identifying medical conditions that could be associated with delays and disabilities. However, they did not consistently check for normal development or developmental delays. Furthermore, the healthcare providers reported low frequencies of documenting developmental growth. The caregivers' survey results showed that 67% were familiar with the concept of "well-child visits", and the most frequently discussed topic by the healthcare providers was motor development.

Conclusions: Well-defined, government-supported standards are needed to encourage regular well-child visits and implement efficient practices for the early detection of developmental delays.

Keywords: developmental delays; early detection; healthcare providers; infants and toddlers; screening; well-child visits.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.