15 Provision of care for children with developmental disorders in the canton of Zurich


Little is known in Switzerland about the availability of, demand for and efficacy of the care provided for children with developmental disorders and disabilities in the first years of life. The research project aims to fill this gap by analysing data from a central register in the canton of Zurich.

Portrait / project description (ongoing research project)

The study focuses on an analysis of data held centrally by the Canton of Zurich about children whose development is abnormal up to the age at which they start kindergarten (2,200 new cases annually). The children concerned will be characterised in terms of clinical, demographic and environmental factors. The children’s activities, their participation and the way they access the healthcare system will also be studied. It will subsequently be established which children receive which treatment and how the children’s condition changes over time. Finally, the needs of affected families and their satisfaction and experience with the healthcare system will be studied.


Developmental disorders such as specific language impairment, mental retardation, social delay, motor disabilities or behavioural disorders are among the most common disorders encountered in early childhood. It is vital to identify and treat these disorders at an early stage to avoid late complications and improve the children’s participation. The University Children’s Hospital in Zurich and the cantonal hospital in Winterthur each have a specialised centre where affected children are documented and the necessary measures coordinated.


The aim of the study is to characterise in more detail the children with developmental disorders in early childhood who are recorded in the central register, to analyse the processes in which they are documented and treated and to understand the needs of the affected families. This data register is the only source of its kind in Switzerland that can generate more knowledge about the system and the way healthcare services for children with disordered development are used.

Relevance / Application

The results will help to shape the policy on the structure of the healthcare provided for children with developmental disorders in the first few years of life. They will also form a basis for developing decision-making aids for experts involved in the needs-appropriate, effective and cost-efficient treatment and care of the children concerned.

Original title

Preschool Children with Developmental Delay: The Standard of Care Evaluated

Project leader

  • Prof. Dr. med. Oskar Jenni, Abteilung Entwicklungspädiatrie, Universitäts-Kinderspital Zürich



Further information on this content


Prof. Dr. med. Oskar Jenni Leiter Abteilung Entwicklungspädiatrie Universitäts-Kinderspital Zürich - Eleonorenstiftung Steinwiesstrasse 75 8032 Zürich +41 44 266 77 51

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