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CDC changes childhood speech milestones

Jennifer M. Zubler, said that the changes were made to the guidelines ensure that it reflects milestones that at least 75 percent of children can reach.

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Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that speech standards, and not milestones, were lowered, while in fact it is the milestones that have been adjusted. As Health Feedback notes, "The CDC updated doesn't mean that the agency now uses a lower bar to measure children's development. Instead, the update is intended to improve the detection of developmental delays by focussing on the 25% of children who lag behind." The headline and article have also been changed to reflect this update.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has quietly changed their standards for early childhood development, as the effects of pandemic policies on children’s development.

Earlier this month, the CDC announced that new checklist ages for its important milestone lists were added. These new ages added were 15 and 30 months. The idea is that previous milestones were based on what 50 percent of children could reach, where the new milestone are based on what 75 percent of children can reach. This will make identifying that 25 percent who lag behind easier to do.

The update banner at the top of the page points those interested in the updates to the developmental milestones to a Pediatrics article outlining the research conducted that resulted in the change.

One of the authors of this study, Jennifer M. Zubler, said that the changes were made to the guidelines ensure that it reflects milestones that at least 75 percent of children can reach.

The abstract states: "Application of the criteria established by the AAP working group and adding milestones for the 15- and 30-month health supervision visits resulted in a 26.4 percent reduction and 40.9 percent replacement of previous CDC milestones. One third of the retained milestones were transferred to different ages; 67.7 percent of those transferred were moved to older ages."

Before, the milestone guidelines said that at 24 months, or two years of age, a child should be able to say more than 50 words. This milestone has been pushed back to 30 months.

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