CDC Updates Developmental Milestones

March 07, 2022

Earlier this month, the CDC unveiled revised developmental milestone checklists in their Learn the Signs. Act Early program. The goal of this first-ever update to the checklists is to improve the early identification and diagnosis of autism and other developmental disabilities.

A group of eight (8) autism experts, pediatric medicine, developmental disability identification, and screening tools convened to review existing published research on developmental milestones and assessment, as well as clinical opinion on best practices. This clinical review provided the empirical basis for the revised developmental checklists.

The biggest change is that the milestones now reference what 75%, or most, children will reach by a certain age. Previous checklists used a 50%, or average, criteria which was determined to have caused a “wait and see” approach by some families and professionals. Clinical experts agree that this change will help families and clinicians take a more aggressive approach to early screening, which will improve the early diagnosis and treatment of autism and other developmental disabilities.

In addition to that change, 15- and 30-month checklists were added to align with all recommended pediatric wellness visits from 2 months to 5 years. Finally, the CDC revised and modified its presentation and language to be less vague (i.e., removed terms like “may” or “begins to” from some milestones) and more parent-friendly across various educational, racial and socio-economic backgrounds.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s development, please discuss them with your child’s healthcare provider.

Still not sure where to start? Call our 800.4.AUTISM Helpline to access New Jersey’s most valued and reliable resource for referrals and service navigation support.