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OTS 112: Why the CDC Updated the Developmental Milestones Checklist

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Welcome to the show notes for Episode 112 of the OT Schoolhouse Podcast.

Were you flabbergasted when the CDC changed the guidelines for developmental milestones In February?

You weren’t alone. But it is important to look deeper at why these changes were made. The CDC was tasked with updating the milestones and making them less confusing for those who rely on them most - parents. The milestones are still (mostly) the same, and they are backed by research, as we discuss with Dr. Kate Barlow in the episode.

Kate is an ambassador for the CDC, and she talks to us about the milestones that are established for the first 5 years of a child's life. Kate describes why this is important for us OTPs that are in schools. Tune in to find out why!

Tune in to learn the following objectives:

  • Learners will identify what the developmental monitor program is used for

  • Learners will identify why the 75th percentile is no longer included on the CDC milestones checklist

  • Learners will identify how the CDC milestones app can be used by OTPs

Guest Bio

Kate Barlow, OTD, MS, OTR/L

Dr. Barlow is an Associate Professor at American International College. She is also the CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early. Ambassador for the state of Massachusetts. Dr. Barlow received her BS in Occupational Therapy from Boston University and her MS and OTD from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has over 20 years of clinical experience in pediatrics, and her areas of expertise are in pediatric feeding and early identification of delays.

As the CDC’s Act Early Ambassador for Massachusetts, Dr. Barlow has been working in Public Health to promote developmental monitoring and screening within Head Start and WIC centers across the state. Dr. Barlow won the 2022 NBCOT Innovation award for her work in global outreach. She founded the International Interprofessional Mentorship Program in June of 2019, which currently provides mentorship to therapists in low- and middle-income countries.


“Prior to COVID, when the research was done, the CDC was estimating that more than 50% of the children that need services before age three are not receiving them” - Kate Barlow, OTD, MS, OTR/L

“Developmental monitoring is done by everybody in the community…Parents, teachers, clinicians, YMCA workers, at-home day workers, Headstart teachers… This is a public health tool” -Kate Barlow, OTD, MS, OTR/L

“Now it's much clearer, you check one of these boxes, go see the doctor. So I really like that it's much more direct” -Kate Barlow, OTD, MS, OTR/L

“I'm glad now that we're hearing the reason it came off is because there wasn't the research to support that 75th percentile for crawling… as a profession, we try to be research-based and now we know why that happened” -Jayson Davies, MA, OTR/L

“You know, and a lot of times people don't have the same pediatrician, so they're seeing someone different every single time. So it's a great tool to help families communicate with their doctors” -Kate Barlow, OTD, MS, OTR/L


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