Validation of a touchscreen assessment tool to screen for cognitive delay at 24 months

TrĂ­ona Casey , Aoife Jones Thachuthara, Leanna Fogarty,  Vicki Livingstone, Michelle de Haan, Neil Marlow, Mairead E Kiely, Deirdre M Murray 

Aim: To validate a touchscreen assessment as a screening tool for mild cognitive delay in typically developing children aged 24 months.

Method: Secondary analysis of data was completed from an observational birth cohort study (The Cork Nutrition & Microbiome Maternal-Infant Cohort Study [COMBINE]), with children born between 2015 and 2017. Outcome data were collected at 24 months of age, at the INFANT Research Centre, Ireland. Outcomes were the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, Third Edition cognitive composite score and a language-free, touchscreen-based cognitive measure (Babyscreen).

Results: A total of 101 children (47 females, 54 males) aged 24 months (mean = 24.25, SD = 0.22) were included. Cognitive composite scores correlated with the total number of Babyscreen tasks completed, with moderate concurrent validity (r = 0.358, p < 0.001). Children with cognitive composite scores lower than 90 (1 SD below the mean, defined as mild cognitive delay) had lower mean Babyscreen scores than those with cognitive scores equal to or greater than 90 (8.50 [SD = 4.89] vs 12.61 [SD = 3.68], p = 0.001). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for the prediction of a cognitive composite score less than 90 was 0.75 (95% confidence interval = 0.59-0.91; p = 0.006). Babyscreen scores less than 7 were equivalent to less than the 10th centile and identified children with mild cognitive delay with 50% sensitivity and 93% specificity.

Interpretation: Our 15-minute, language-free touchscreen tool could reasonably identify mild cognitive delay among typically developing children.

Dev Med Child Neurol
2023 Sep;65(9):1206-1214.  doi: 10.1111/dmcn.15555. Epub 2023 Feb 19.