Increased rates of unattained developmental milestones among Israeli children between 2016 and 2020: a national report

Irena Girshovitz, Guy Amit, Inbal Goldshtein, Deena R. Zimmerman, Ravit Baruch, Pinchas Akiva, Meytal Avgil Tsadok, Yair Sadaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The early years of children’s lives are critical for their healthy development. Although children’s growth and development rates may vary, a significant delay during early childhood could indicate a medical or a developmental disorder. Developmental surveillance is used worldwide by healthcare providers in routine encounters, as well as by educators and parents, to elicit concerns about child development. In this work, we used a national dataset of developmental assessments to describe temporal trends of milestone attainment rates and associations between milestone attainment and various sociodemographic factors. Methods: The study included 1,002,700 children ages birth until 6 years with 4,441,689 developmental visits between the years 2016 and 2020. We used the Israeli developmental scale to assess the annual rates of failure to attain language, social and motoric milestones by the entire population, as well as by subgroups stratified by sociodemographic factors. In addition, we evaluated the rates of parental concern for child development and of the nurse’s report of development inadequate for age. We used multivariable logistic regression to analyze the impact of different sociodemographic factors on the odds of failure to attain milestones, while controlling for confounding. Results: Milestone failure rates progressively increased over the examined years in all developmental domains, and most prominently in the language domain. Conversely, the rates of parental concern for developmental delay remained constant. In multivariable analysis, higher risk of milestone attainment failure was observed in children whose mothers were divorced, unemployed, immigrant, had lower education, of Bedouin origin or were over 40 years old when giving birth. Conclusions: This report describes national trends of child development in the gross motor, fine motor, language, and social domains. A periodic report of these trends should be published to objectively evaluate subgroups in need for intervention, and to assess the effectiveness of intervention programs in attempt to maximize the developmental potential of children in Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Article number38
JournalIsrael Journal of Health Policy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • Child development
  • Developmental surveillance
  • Israel
  • Milestone attainment
  • Trends

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy


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