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What factors are associated with poor developmental attainment in young Canadian children?


Background — This study was undertaken to determine the association between poor developmental attainment (PDA) and biological, home environment and socio-demographic factors in a population-based sample of Canadian children.

Methods — Cross-sectional data from two cycles (1994/95 and 1996/97) of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth were used. Children aged 1-5 years were included. PDA was defined as < or = 15th percentile for motor and social developmental skills (1-3 year olds) or Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (4-5 year olds). Multiple logistic regression was used.

Results — The proportion of children with PDA varies across Canada, between males and females, and by age. Among 1 year olds in Cycle I, having a low birthweight (OR=3.3; 95% CI: 2.1-5.2), being male (OR=1.6; 95% CI: 1.2-2.2) and having a mother who is an immigrant (OR=1.6; 95% CI: 1.1-2.2) increased the odds of PDA. Similar results were observed in Cycle II. Among children aged 4-5 years in Cycle II, having a mother who is an immigrant (OR=5.3; 95% CI: 4.1-6.9) and a mother with low educational attainment (OR=2.8; 95% CI: 2.1-3.9) increased the odds of PDA. Low income was a significant predictor of PDA across all age groups.

Interpretation — The strong and consistent associations with living in a low-income household, having a mother with low educational attainment or a mother who is an immigrant highlight the need for targeting developmental assessments and services to this population.



To T, Guttmann A, Dick PT, Rosenfield JD, Parkin PC, Cao H, Vydkhan TN, Tassoudji M, Harris JK. Can J Public Health. 2004; 95(4):258-63.

Contributing ICES Scientists