Longitudinal developmental profile of children from low socio-economic circumstances in Cape Town, using the 1966 Griffiths Mental Development Scales

B Laughton, P E Springer, D Grove, S Seedat, M Cornell, M Kidd, S A Madhi, M F Cotton


Background. The Griffiths Mental Development Scales (GMDS) have not been standardised in South African children. Neurodevelopmental scores of infants from deprived environments decline with age, but there is no evidence on how young South African children from such backgrounds perform on serial assessments.

Aim. To describe the longitudinal developmental profile of infants from low socio-economic backgrounds at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital by comparing the GMDS 0 - 2 scores performed at 10 - 12 months and 20 - 22 months.

Methods. Infants born to HIV-uninfected women attending the public service programme were recruited from a vaccine study in Cape Town, South Africa. The GMDS 0 - 2 years and a neurological examination were performed between 10 and 12 months and between 20 and 22 months.

Results. Thirty-one infants (14 girls, 17 boys) were assessed. Their mean (standard deviation (SD)) age was 11.6 (0.8) months and 21.0 (0.5) months at the first and second assessments, respectively. The mean (SD) general quotient decreased significantly from 107.3 (11.7) to 95.0 (11.0) (p<0.001). All sub-quotients decreased significantly except for locomotor. The hearing and language sub-quotient was most affected, with a decrease in mean quotients from 113.0 to 93.2 (p<0.001). There was no evidence of intercurrent events to explain the decline.

Interpretation. Scores on the GMDS of this group of children from low socio-economic backgrounds were normal at 11 months and, other than locomotor, decreased significantly at 21 months, with language the most affected. Further research is needed to determine the specific reasons for the decline.

Authors' affiliations

B Laughton, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital

P E Springer, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital

D Grove, Stellenbosch University

S Seedat, Stellenbosch University

M Cornell,

M Kidd, Stellenbosch University

S A Madhi, University of Witwatersrand

M F Cotton, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital

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Child development, Griffiths Mental Development Scales

Cite this article

South African Journal of Child Health 2010;4(4):106.

Article History

Date submitted: 2010-01-29
Date published: 2010-12-08

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