Munich Functional Developmental Diagnostics

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Munich Functional Developmental Diagnostics

Munich Functional Developmental Diagnostics (MFDD) is a globally recognised, well-grounded method of early diagnostics applied for multi-faceted evaluation of psycho-motor development in children at the age from the first month to the sixth year of life. In order to highlight the holistic approach to the child psycho-motor development, MFDD is called a system of early diagnosis by its creators.

MFDD genesis

This method was developed in Germany by a professor Theodora Hellbrügge , the founder of the clinic o social child medicine “Child Centre” in Munich (currently kbo-Kinderzentrum München. MFDD (German: Münchener Funktionelle Entwicklungsdiagnostik MFED) was established on the basis of many years’ examinations of neonates and small children which were started as early as in 1970 and is the effect of long-term cooperation of paediatricians and psychologists from the Child Centre in Munich.

MFDD goals

The main aim of the Munich Functional Developmental Diagnostics is complex evaluation of the child psycho-motor development with which it is possible to diagnose potential disorders, e.g. in the scope of perception, speech development, social contacts or motor functions. Munich diagnostics is the basis for taking appropriate therapeutical actions.

Application scope

Munich Functional Developmental Diagnostics is a routine, widely used diagnostic method in paediatric practice (in particular, in Germany), but its high reliability, readability and usefulness resulted in fast popularisation of MFDD also in the environment of doctors and therapists. It constitutes an extremely valuable and effective diagnostic tool as well as is acknowledged as one of the best methods in prophylaxis and early diagnosis of developmental deficits in small children.

The method is continuously developed and updated. The research is also continued and the base of results of normative random sample is enlarged, which means differentiated and reliable standards. MDFF in its primary version concerned the 1 year of life, then it was extended with 2 and 3 year of life and then with 4-6. A novelty is a MDFF version for screening tests.

The confirmation of high quality of “Munich Diagnosis” and its appreciation by the international paediatric treatment society is acknowledgment of MDFF by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a model system of tertiary prophylaxis, i.e. actions aiming to, for example, prevent disabilities and future diseases.

Diagnosis results

MDFF is a quantitative method which shows the convergence (or divergence) of an examined child with patterns observed in 90% of children at the same age, evaluated as within the standard. The method is highly objective since the results of particular tasks are unequivocal, i.e. a child completed a given experiment/task or not - there are not intermediate evaluations.

This method, upon performance of tests, creates a so-called child’s developmental profile - it is illustrated with a diagram combining the results for particular functions. It mainly allows to quickly define the deviation from the standard for a given skill, i.e. find so-called strengths and weaknesses of a child.

The MDFF result is highly readable and can be easily understood also by parents. The term of developmental age (in months) is used in this diagnosis. The result shows developmental age of a given child for a given function. It refers to the current child’s age, i.e. it shows the comparison of a factual level of development with the desired (statistical) level of development.

World Health Organisation (WHO) acknowledged this method as a model system of tertiary prophylaxis. It means that early diagnosis of developmental disorders must be popularised and treated as equally important as preventive vaccinations. The tertiary prophylaxis must include all neonates and, most of all, children from the risk group.

Early diagnosis of abnormalities in the psycho-motor development of a small child (in particular, in the first weeks of life) as well as early therapeutical intervention allow for compensation of developmental deficits in a child up to 1 year of life in as many as in 94% (acc. to German studies), 92% (acc. to Japanese studies) and 87% (acc. to Polish studies) of cases.

In the first year of child’s life, the Munich Functional Developmental Diagnostics projects the evaluation of the 8 most important psycho-motor functions:

  • crawling,
  • sitting down,
  • walking,
  • gripping,
  • perception,
  • speaking,
  • understanding speech (from 10 month of life)
  • social skills,

In the second and third year of child’s life, MDFF evaluates 7 developmental functions:

  • gross motor skills,
  • fine motor skills,
  • cognitive processes,
  • speaking,
  • understanding speech,
  • social skills,
  • independence.
The advantages of Munich Functional Developmental Diagnostics:
  • each task is precisely selected for a given month of a child’s life,
  • in case of children born prematurely (before 40th week of pregnancy), the period missing to the delivery date is subtracted, 
  • test questions are formulated with high precision,
  • test material is standardised,
  • it can be applied without limitations in time,
  • it is applied in compliance with child’s needs and condition.