Early Childhood Developmental Status in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: National, Regional, and Global Prevalence Estimates Using Predictive Modeling

June 7, 2016
Authors: Dana Charles McCoy, Evan D. Peet, Majid Ezzati, Goodarz Danaei, Maureen M. Black, Christopher R. Sudfeld, Wafaie Fawzi, and Gunther Fink
Organization: PLOS Medicine

This study aims to establish the number of preschool aged children in 35 low and middle income countries with low cognitive and/or socio-emotional development through the use of population-representative data. Measures of cognition for young children included the ability to comprehend directions and work independently on tasks in the cognitive domain. Measures of socio-emotional growth included the ability to control aggressive behavior and avoid distraction, and to get along with peers. The findings of this study suggest that nearly one third of the total number of children included in the sample have low cognition and/ or socio-emotional scores. Low development outcomes were concentrated in areas with high rates of infectious disease, malnutrition, poverty, and limited availability of high quality healthcare and education resources. These results highlight the critical need for multi-sectoral approaches and interventions such as programs that integrate psychosocial and educational approaches with health and nutrition to address these children’s needs.