CDC releases free app to track child development

By Dave Muoio
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a new app for new parents looking to follow the first five years of their child’s growth and development. The Milestone Tracker app, available for free on Android and iOS devices, offers a checklist of the important milestones parents should look out for to identify whether or not their child may have a disability or any other factors that could delay development.

"Skills like taking a first step, saying those first words, and waving 'bye-bye' are developmental milestones all parents anticipate and celebrate," CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald said in a statement. "This CDC Milestone Tracker app gives parents tips to help their child learn and grow, a way to track developmental milestones, recognize delays, and the ability to share this information with their healthcare provider.”

Alongside the checklist come illustrated photos, videos, tips, and activity suggestions for parents to identify and encourage developments. The app stores any milestones in a personalized summary that can be easily shared with a health care provider, and includes information from the CDC on when it is best to do so when development is a concern. The app supports entries for multiple children, and includes scheduling and reminder tools for children’s doctor appointments and developmental screenings.

The Milestone Tracker app was developed by the CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early” program and contributors from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. The app does not collect or share personal identification data, and is not a replacement for the American Academy of Pediatrics’ standardized developmental screening tool.

The Milestone Tracker app may be backed by the CDC, but it isn’t the only child development app out there. Palo Alto, California-based Cognoa’s app takes a more high-tech approach by asking parents to input information and videos of a child’s behavior, then uses machine learning to provide an assessment of whether a child is on pace with their development. The app is intended for use in children aged 18 months to seven years, and provides results that can be brought to a pediatrician to assist in diagnosis. Cognoa announced earlier this year that it had raised $11.6 million in its latest funding round, bringing the company’s total funding to more than $20 million.