Hispanic children may be more than twice as likely as other kids to have developmental delay, new research suggests, but in many cases the condition is going unnoticed.
In what’s believed to be the largest study yet to compare the development of Hispanic and non-Hispanic children, researchers found that more than 6 percent of Latino kids had developmental delay. That compares to a rate of just 2.4 percent among other children in the study of over 1,000 California kids ages 2 to 5.
The high rate of developmental issues among Hispanic kids suggests that many children may not be receiving needed services, researchers said of the findings reported in the journal Autism.
“Our study raises concerns about access to accurate, culturally relevant information regarding developmental milestones and the importance of early detection and treatment,” said Virginia Chaidez who led the study at the University of California, Davis. “Autism and developmental delay tend to go undiagnosed when parents are not aware of the signs to look for, and the conditions are often misdiagnosed when parents don’t have access to adequate developmental surveillance and screening.”
In addition to the high rate of developmental delay identified among Hispanic children, researchers also found that about 1 in 5 kids of all ethnic backgrounds diagnosed with developmental delay before participating in the study actually qualified for an autism diagnosis. The finding raises concerns about access to reliable assessments, researchers said.
“That so many children are slipping through the cracks is disheartening,” said Robin Hansen of the UC Davis MIND Institute who co-authored the study. “We need to make sure that all children are getting routine developmental screening, early diagnosis and intervention so they can achieve their fullest potential.”