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Black and Hispanic Children with Developmental Delays are Less Likely to Receive Early Intervention Services

One in four children under the age of 5 is at risk of a developmental delay and could benefit from early intervention, yet black and Hispanic children are much less likely to be identified as needing services than white children.

A qualitative study, "Beliefs Regarding Development and Early Intervention Among Low-Income African American and Hispanic Mothers" published in the November 2017 issue of Pediatrics (published online Oct. 16), states that fewer than 25% of children eligible for early intervention services use them.

The authors interviewed 22 mothers to explore the ways in which maternal health beliefs influenced them in seeking help for developmental delays, a condition in which children do not achieve timely motor, language, cognitive, social, behavioral or adaptive skills.

The analysis revealed five major themes in how health beliefs shaped the mother's decisions:

  • Observing other children and making comparisons

  • Perceiving that their child might be delayed but not being concerned

  • Relying on social networks rather than the pediatrician in seeking help

  • Finding it hard to prioritize early intervention because of social or financial stressors

  • Receiving limited or conflicting information

Black and Hispanic mothers often reported feeling pressured into using services rather than perceiving services as beneficial.

Editor's note: The solicited commentary, "Health Beliefs and the Developmental Treatment Cascade," accompanies this study.

Additional Information from



10/16/2017 12:00 AM
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