, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 307-318
Date: 27 Sep 2006

High Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in Children Admitted to a General Pediatric Inpatient Unit

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Objective: Evaluate a) the prevalence of developmental disabilities (DD) in children admitted to a general pediatrics inpatient unit, and b) the number of children admitted to the unit with previously undiagnosed developmental disability. Methods: Prevalence was evaluated through retrospective record review. Subjects: One hundred ninety children older than five months of age admitted to a general pediatric unit. Results: Of 190 children admitted, 155 (81.6%) had adequate developmental screening documented in the record. Forty-nine (25.7% of total, 31.6% of screened) had a developmental disability, 22 (12.1% of total, 14.8% of screened) had a previously unrecognized disability. Sample prevalence of DD was: cerebral palsy (6.8%), developmental delay or mental retardation (8.4%), language delay (4.6%), learning disability (8.2%), and hearing loss (1.5%). New diagnoses included: three children with probable mental retardation (MR), nine with learning disability (may include mild MR), seven with language delay, three with abnormal motor skills (fine and/or gross motor), one each of: neurofibromatosis type I, hearing loss, cerebral palsy, dysphagia. Some children had more than one new diagnosis. Conclusion: The prevalence of disabilities in a general pediatrics inpatient unit is much higher than the prevalence in the community. Because almost half of the disabilities were previously unrecognized, acute hospitalization is an excellent opportunity to conduct developmental screening.