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Forty years of referrals and outcomes to a UK Child Development Centre (CDC): Has demand plateaued?

Child Care Health Dev. 2018 Feb 20;:

Authors: Williams AN, Mold B, Kilbey L, Naganna P

AIMS: To explore 40 years of Child Development Centre (CDC) activity and outcomes at Northampton General Hospital 1974-2014.
METHODS: The study comprises 3 data sets: a published report from 1974 to 1999, an internal audit from 2001 to 2004, and more recent data collected from 2005 to 2014. The medical notes of all children who were assessed by the CDC in 2014 were reviewed, along with referral data collected by the CDC manager from this year and the preceding 10 years.
RESULTS: From January 1, 1974 to December 31, 2014, 3,786 children were assessed. The male to female ratio is 2.8:1 from 2005 to 2014. Referrals for behavioural difficulties increased from 10% (10/100 referrals) in 1999-2004 to 17.8% (18/101 referrals) in 2014. Similarly, referrals for social and communication problems, “interaction” increased two and a half fold from 10% (10/100 referrals) in 1999-2004 to 26.7% (27/101 referrals) in 2014. Between 2004 and 2014, numbers of referrals for “developmental delay” halved (22.2% to 12%).
CONCLUSION: We are aware of no other comparable extant UK CDC database. Services should plan for a referral rate of 6.5 per 1,000 preschool children. Between 1974 and 2014, there has clearly been a change in recorded assessment outcomes. From the mid-1980s, this reflects the change to a preschool assessment role and a shift away from purely educational outcome to include medical conditions. Covering 1974-2014, we demonstrate a clear increase in the number of referrals together with an increasing demand for assessments for social interaction and behavioural difficulties. This reflects the increased awareness of these neurodevelopmental difficulties and the changing diagnostic criteria which will now more likely result in an Autistic Spectrum Disorder diagnosis than previously. Together, these two features are most likely to have considerable implications for service development within Child Development Centres (CDCs) and Child Development Teams (CDTs).

PMID: 29460480 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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