Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

Lane Strathearn, MBBS, PhD, FRACP
Division Director

The Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP) provides compassionate and state-of-the-art clinical care for children with a variety of challenges and difficulties, including developmental (cognitive, language, social, behavioral, motor) delays, intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, hearing/vision impairments, ADHD, learning disorders (such as dyslexia), feeding disorders, disruptive behavior disorders, chronic pain syndromes, and cerebral palsy. The DBP Division also provides leadership for the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital Autism Center, which is a collaborative program of the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Psychiatry.

Services are provided through the Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD), which is a highly respected stand-alone facility on the campus of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. As an interdisciplinary center of excellence, it integrates a broad range of clinical services in one location, including developmental and behavioral pediatrics, psychology and neuropsychology, speech-language pathology, occupational and physical therapy, social work, education, audiology, and nursing, and thus provides an environment for exceptional patient care, education, and research. The CDD is also the home of Iowa’s LEND program (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities), and has provided outstanding interdisciplinary training in neurodevelopmental disabilities for over two decades. In addition, the CDD is recognized as Iowa’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), which works to ensure that all Iowans with disabilities have the opportunities, services, and supports they need to be independent and productive members of their home communities.

Research in the Division includes a focus on prevention of developmental and behavioral problems in early childhood by examining early parent-child attachment patterns and how a parent's brain responds to seeing and hearing their infant -- during functional brain scanning. Another goal is to better understand how genetics and social environments intersect to predict developmental outcomes in childhood. The Division has been a national leader in research using applied behavior analysis to treat severely challenging behavior, and recent studies have developed practical strategies for using telehealth to expand access to behavioral treatment for children in rural and underserved areas. The Center also participates in the Fragile X Clinical and Research Consortium.