Impact of the MDAT

How can the MDAT help children?

The MDAT can be used to evaluate how child development is affected by different interventions or events, which could lead to new standards of practice being developed. 

Red flags for use within the MDAT can help to identify those children whose development is very delayed and where there may be concerns that the child has a disability.  Although we would not recommend the tool for screening on its own, it can be helpful in providing guidance as to what children in low and middle income settings can do at different ages and what questions you can ask and use to assess children in these settings.

Studies from Malawi and other countries have shown good validity (sensitivity to change) of the tool in identifying children with neurodisabilities and developmental delay in a wide variety of research studies including; Children born prematurely, children with infections such as HIV (both infected and exposed), children affected by cerebral malaria, and children who have had malnutrition.  Additionally, the MDAT has also been shown to have good predictive validity for school attainment with children who scored better on the MDAT doing better in maths in secondary school in Malawi. 

How is the MDAT unique?

As this tool has been specifically developed for those in sub-saharan Africa, it’s unique in the sense that it’s culturally relevant, accurate and accessible in both low income settings and/or rural Africa. It has now been used in many low and middle-income countries, including those in South East Asia and South America.

Recent studies have also demonstrated its use as one of only three tools which report adequate psychometric properties and feasibility for identifying and monitoring young children with disabilities at primary health care level in low and middle income settings.

The MDAT has been used in over 20 countries on more than 8000 children and endorsed by Governments, Researchers, and NGOs such as the Gates Foundation, Save the Children, Medicins Sans Frontieres and World Bank.