J Korean Neuropsychiatr Assoc.  2020 Aug;59(3):176-184. 10.4306/jknpa.2020.59.3.176.

The Role of Pediatric Psychiatrists in the National Health Screening Program for Infants and Children in Korea

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Kyung Hee University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


Given that many adult mental disorders begin in childhood, an assessment of infants’ and children’s cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral problems can lead to early detection and intervention. Among the national life-cycle health policies in Korea, the first assessment was the National Health Screening Program for Infants and Children (NHSPIC) under the age of six since 2007, which was led by the Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Korean Pediatric Society. Since 2012, the target has been expanded to infants aged 66–71 months, and seven checkups were conducted on each child with a medical examination and health education for parents. Pediatric translational specialists, including language pathologists and pediatric psychiatrists, collaborated on the NHSPIC. The Korean Developmental Screening Test (K-DST) is applicable from the second examination (9–12 months after birth). This test evaluates six categories: gross motor, fine motor, cognition, communication, social interaction, and self-control. Each category consists of eight questions. Caregivers check the assessment questions according to the age group, and physicians classify the developmental levels into three stages: peer and high, follow-up evaluation, and further evaluation. The Korean Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry was incorporated to develop electronic media exposure, emotional and social skills, and pre-school preparation items for health education for parents. An advanced assessment with psychiatrists may occur in the cognitive/lingual/social/self-help areas of the K-DST area. A collaboration of psychiatrists in NHSPIC will reduce the incidence and progression of neurodevelopmental disorders.


Development; Screening; Sociality; Emotion; Media; Infant; Preschooler; Maternal mental health
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