Concern over limited resources has prompted a panel of Canadian experts advising against developmental delay screens of all kids if they show no signs of problems or symptoms. Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care recommendations are similar to the U.S. recommendations for autism spectrum disorders and speech and language delays. Children ages one to four who have no symptoms do not need screenings.

“If parents think their child is behind on some of their important milestones, this doesn’t apply to those kids,” said task force member Dr. Brett Thombs, who is affiliated with McGill University in Montreal.

Screeening tools examined by the Task Force showed a high rate of false positives among the children who had no previous symptoms or signs of learning difficulties. The false positives result in more children being referred for more advanced testing, which is unnecessary.

“We don’t recommend parents get their kids tested unless they have any specific concerns,” said Thombs. “We’re not suggesting parents and physicians don’t keep ongoing surveillance. If they have any concerns at all, they should have their physicians check it out.”

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