What the Evidence Does (and Does Not) Show for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Child Development Milestones: An Illustrative Example Using Expressive Vocabulary

Megan Y. Roberts*, Bailey J. Sone, Maranda K. Jones, Murielle Standley, Tracy Conner, E. Debbie Lee, Elizabeth S. Norton, Judith Roman, Marisha Speights, Rylie Young, Adriana Weisleder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Child development milestones are a critical tool for pediatricians and caregivers to use for developmental surveillance. Following review and selection by a panel of subject matter experts, the Centers for Disease Control and Pre-vention (CDC) published a revised list of milestones across multiple domains of development. Using expressive vocabulary, a key indicator of language devel-opment, as an illustrative example, the purpose of this brief review is to evalu-ate the evidence used to establish the CDC developmental milestones and determine whether the samples used to establish these milestones are repre-sentative of U.S. children. Method: Authors reviewed the methods and evidence cited to determine the CDC milestones. First, authors identified each language/communication mile-stone that measured expressive vocabulary as number of words, followed by review of the sources cited in support of each extracted milestone. Then, data related to both milestones and sample characteristics were extracted and com-piled as well as compared with data from a validated parent report measure of expressive vocabulary, the MacArthur–Bates Communication Development Inventories. Results: Results indicated that evidence was conflicting, misaligned, or missing for the selected CDC expressive vocabulary milestones. This review also indi-cated that the samples used to determine the selected CDC expressive vocabu-lary milestones are not representative of U.S. children. Conclusion: The striking paucity of evidence supporting the new CDC mile-stones for expressive vocabulary illustrates the critical need for future research in this area to establish more accurate milestones for U.S. children, with a focus on culturally inclusive large-scale data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3622-3632
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Volume66
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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