Early identification of developmental problems and delays means that interventions can begin sooner and are more effective and less resource-intensive than later interventions, after a problem has festered and worsened. Despite these benefits, statistics indicate that few infants and toddlers actually receive such screenings (AAP 2006). The goal of this Phase I project is to establish the scientific and technical feasibility of adapting a validated parental-report screening tool (PEDS:Developmental Milestones - PEDS:DM) to conduct developmental screening using an interactive text message survey - and to integrate that tool into text4baby - a free national service for mothers offering information an services relevant to pregnancy and the first year of childhood. This project has three specific aims: to build a mobile health application integrated with text4baby that incorporates PEDS:DM;to conduct a pilot study among 100 mothers of infants 11-12 months of age;and to create a model to provide parents follow-up for screened children who have "red flags" for possible developmental concerns. Subsequent phases will build on Phase I. Phase II will continue and deepen the research on doing developmental screenings through PEDS:DM through text4baby and Phase III will establish the commercial viability of this work. The proposal is being submitted by Voxiva, the small business that co-founded text4baby and provides the mHealth platform on which it is based. Healthy Mothers Health Babies (HMHB), the national coalition leading text4baby, will oversee formative research and evaluation and coordinate with national stakeholders. PEDStest.com, LLC will donate PEDS:DM and the associated algorithms and oversee quality assurance of the screening results. Finally, the Prince George's County, MD, Infants and Toddlers Program (Early Intervention, Part C of the federal IDEA program) will provide follow-up for any child who is "red-flagged" by the screening tool. The team, led by Principal Investigators Pamela Johnson, Ph.D., and Margaret Dunkle, includes experts with strong academic and research credentials and decades of experience in mobile health, developmental screening, evaluation research, community collaboration, and product development. Proprietary and Confidential.
This research addresses the critical public health priority for early identification of children who have disabilities or developmental delays, so that they might then receive early intervention. This project does this by building and testing an interactive mHealth application that incorporates the highly accurate, parental-report PEDS:DM developmental screening tool using text messaging. If successful, this project could be taken to scale through text4baby, a free text-based service for pregnant women and new mothers that already has enrolled more than 320,000 subscribers. Proprietary and Confidential.