Childhood Developmental Screening

mother reading a book with her child
Medically Reviewed by Dr Raina Loh, MMed (Family Medicine), Singapore

What is child development?

Child development refers to the continuous changes that occur in children from birth. As children develop at different rates, the age of attainment for each milestone ranges widely. This is due to an interplay of environmental and genetic factors. The series of checkpoints in a child’s growth are called developmental milestones. They are the foundational skills that your child should develop during his/ her growing years.

What is development delay?

Developmental delay occurs when your child does not reach his/her developmental milestones at the expected time. The four domains of development include gross motor, fine motor, language, and social skills. Developmental delays can occur in isolation or as part of global developmental delay, whereby a child is delayed in 2 or more domains.

A delay in development may affect the way a person communicates, thinks, learns, moves and behaves. Common developmental disabilities that affect children include autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia.

Children with developmental delay can be identified during routine Childhood Developmental Screening or after parents or pre-school teachers concerns.

Not all delays can be seen with the naked eye. Common developmental delays can may not be so apparent until a child enter primary school. Some of them include ASD, dyslexia or speech impairments.

Your child’s health booklet is a useful resource that parents can use to monitor their child’s development. The health booklet provides guidelines on the time points when developmental screening should occur. The checklist is based on a tool that has been standardised for the local Singaporean population. As the cut-offs indicate 90th percentile norms, if a child is unable to achieve a milestone for the stated age, a more in-depth assessment is recommended.

Every child is different and the exact timing each child achieves a milestone can differ. However, a significant delay may suggest a problem that requires further evaluation.

What is Childhood Developmental Screening (CDS)?

Childhood Developmental Screening (CDS) is a comprehensive assessment conducted by doctors, that helps to identify children who are at risk of developmental delays. It is a quick and simple way to check if a child is developing as expected. It involves a series of questions and observations to assess a child’s skills and abilities across different areas of development, such as language, fine and gross motor skills, and social-emotional development. The systematic assessment helps to identify those who are at risk of developmental delays so that early intervention can be provided. If there is any concern regarding a child’s growth and development, the child may be referred to an appropriate specialist or reviewed more regularly.

Why is Childhood Developmental Screening important?

Early childhood is a critical time for brain development and learning. Developmental screening helps to identify potential developmental delays or disabilities in children early on so that they can receive the support and services that they need in order to reach their full potential. Early intervention can make a significant difference in a child’s life and can improve their long-term outcomes.

Studies have shown that the sooner a developmental delay is found and therapy is started, the better the child’s chances of making progress. The Childhood Developmental Screening is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your child’s developmental delays are picked up early.

Through these scheduled well-child reviews, CDS helps to ensure that your child is reaching his/her developmental milestones. If developmental delays are detected late, opportunities for early intervention are lost, resulting in poor outcomes such as learning difficulties, behaviour problems and functional impairments later on in life.

If a child is identified as having a developmental delay or disability, further evaluation and early intervention services may be recommended. Early intervention services can include speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, or other services to support the child’s development. These services are provided through tertiary hospitals, Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) or other community-based services.

When should I start my child’s developmental screening?

Childhood Developmental Screening starts at birth. There are several MOH standardised touchpoints childho for children from birth to 6 years old.

At Keystone Clinic & Surgery, our doctors are equipped to provide comprehensive assessments of your child’s development. Recommendations are carefully tailored to your child based on his/her age, medical history and developmental history.

What can I do to reduce the likelihood of my child having these delays?

Brain growth is most rapid during the early years of a child’s life. During these formative years, it is important that the child is in an environment that stimulates development. Language is stimulated through hearing the language spoken to them often, through everyday conversations, nursery rhymes, and songs. Screen time should be kept to a minimal. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends no screen time for a child less than 18 months of age. If a parent wishes to introduce screen time between 18-24 months, screen time should be limited to watching educational programmes together with a caregiver.

What can I expect during my visit?

During your child’s visit for his/her Childhood Developmental Screening, a healthcare provider will:

  1. Check your child’s growth by plotting his/her head circumference, height and weight on growth charts
  2. Review your child’s health booklet and ask you questions about your child’s development in the specific domains of social, fine motor, language and gross motor development
  3. Observe your child as he/she plays or interact with others
  4. Perform a physical examination

The screening is typically quick and non-invasive, and it provides valuable information about your child’s development.

How do I prepare for the visit?

Simply make an appointment and bring along your child’s Health Booklet.

How much does it cost?

Full subsidies for CDS are available for eligible Singaporean Citizens and Permanent residents from ages of 0 to 6 years old at Keystone Clinic & Surgery, when performed at the recommended touchpoints.

Why Keystone Clinic & Surgery?

Parenting is not easy but we are here to support you! At Keystone Clinic & Surgery, we have your best interests at heart and our team of medical professionals are well equipped to provide thorough assessments and recommendations for your child. Children are precious and keeping your child in the best of health is the common goal that we share with parents. Our team is dedicated to walking with you along every stage of your child’s development and growth process.

Take action today!

If you have a child aged 0-6 years old, we encourage you to schedule a developmental screening for your child. Early identification and intervention can make a significant difference in a child’s life and can improve their long-term outcomes.

How do I make an appointment?

To make an appointment or for further enquiries, please contact your preferred clinic at the following numbers:
Ang Mo Kio: +65 6250 7200
Tanah Merah: +65 6904 3151


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