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

Albert Manasyan, Ariel A. Salas, Tracy Nolen, Elwyn Chomba, Manolo Mazariegos, Antoinette Tshefu Kitoto, Sarah Saleem, Farnaz Naqvi, K. Michael Hambidge, Norman Goco, Elizabeth M. McClure, Jan L. Wallander, Fred J. Biasini, Robert L. Goldenberg, Carl L. Bose, Marion Koso-Thomas, Nancy F. Krebs, Waldemar A. Carlo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 <70. ASQ, when administered by trained healthcare workers, may be a useful screening tool to detect severe disability in infants from rural low-income to middle-income settings. Trial registration number NCT01084109.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere065076
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2023


  • community child health
  • developmental neurology & neurodisability
  • paediatric neurology


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