Diagnostic accuracy of ASQ for screening of neurodevelopmental delays in low resource countries

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Objective: The Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID) is the most used diagnostic tool to identify neurodevelopmental disorders in children under age 3 but is challenging to use in low-resource countries. The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) is an easy-to-use, low-cost clinical tool completed by parents/caregivers that screens children for developmental delay. The objective was to determine the performance of ASQ as a screening tool for neurodevelopmental impairment when compared with BSID second edition (BSID-II) for the diagnosis of moderate-to-severe neurodevelopmental impairment among infants at 12 and 18 months of age in low-resource countries.
Methods: Study participants were recruited as part of the First Bites Complementary Feeding trial from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Guatemala and Pakistan between October 2008 and January 2011. Study participants underwent neurodevelopmental assessment by trained personnel using the ASQ and BSID-II at 12 and 18 months of age.
Results: Data on both ASQ and BSID-II assessments of 1034 infants were analysed. Four of five ASQ domains had specificities greater than 90% for severe neurodevelopmental delay at 18 months of age. Sensitivities ranged from 23% to 62%. The correlations between ASQ communications subscale and BSID-II Mental Development Index (MDI) (r=0.38) and between ASQ gross motor subscale and BSID-II Psychomotor Development Index (PDI) (r=0.33) were the strongest correlations found.
Conclusion: At 18 months, ASQ had high specificity but moderate-to-low sensitivity for BSID-II MDI and/or PDI


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Publication (Name of Journal)

BMJ Open