Tracking Your Baby's Milestones

By Alfred Romeo, RN, PhD

As a health care professional, few things are more rewarding than when a new health-promotion program emerges. This is true especially in cases where the program has the potential to make a huge difference in the lives of children. Please allow me to introduce you to one of those programs. In Utah, the Pregnancy Risk Line is partnering with the Learn the Signs. Act Early. campaign in an effort to help parents of young children learn about healthy development. The free tools and checklists on the website  http://health.utah.gov/utahactearly  help parents determine if their children have reached important milestones for growth and development.

Parents may be familiar with some of the more common milestones, such as learning to walk and talk, but there are others that parents may not know about, such as the child responding to his/her name being called or pointing at objects. Each child is different, even in the same family. Some children learn to sit without support earlier while other children say full sentences earlier. Children normally reach particular milestones at predictable ages, give or take a few weeks. Missed milestones can be symptoms of developmental delays, which could be associated with more serious medical conditions. Parents who suspect missed milestones should make an appointment with their regular health care clinician and ask about the results of the last developmental screening test. Research has shown that children who are identified and treated earlier have better outcomes in development, school performance, and social skills.

The "Learn the Signs. Act Early." campaign was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Currently, Utah, Alaska, Missouri, and Washington are the only states that have launched the campaign, in an effort by the CDC to test various marketing methods and materials. The research, which will include surveys from the start and end of the grant-funded campaigns, will test to see if parents understand what to do when they have concerns about their children.

The partnership between the Utah Department of Health Pregnancy Risk Line andUtah's Learn the Signs. Act Early. campaign is just one example of how teratology (the study of birth defect-causing exposures) information specialists across North America are working to make sure you have the healthiest pregnancy and child possible. Your phone call with one of our specialists may be brief, but you can feel confident knowing that there are many years of work that have gone into providing the answers you receive on that call. Don't hesitate to call your local service or the North American toll-free number provided by the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS).

Alfred Romeo, RN, PhD, works at the Pregnancy Risk Line, a partnership between the Utah Department of Health and the University of Utah. Visit the website at www.pregnancyriskline.org. The Pregnancy Risk Line is an affiliate of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), a non-profit with affiliates across North America. Utah women with questions or concerns about pregnancy or breastfeeding exposures can call 1-800-822-2229.  Outside Utah, please call OTIS at 1-866-626-6847.

OTIS is conducting several studies, including vaccine studies for influenza, meningitis, and the human papillomavirus (HPV). Women who have received these vaccines during their current pregnancy can call OTIS to volunteer to participate in the studies or learn more by visiting OTISPregnancy.org.

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