TWO-year-olds in Inverclyde are twice as likely to have developmental difficulties than those living in more affluent areas.

Leading charity Save the Children has voiced concern about the impact deprivation is having on the health and life chances of local youngsters.

It follows publication of child health reviews carried out on those aged 27 to 30 months over the last three years.

Health visitors found that one in four toddlers living locally have at least one problem, in areas like speech and language, cognitive skills or behaviour.

Last year 721 toddlers were reviewed, with 187 concerns highlighted in at least one domain.

Save the Children policy manager Vicky Crichton said: “These figures clearly show the devastating impact of deprivation, which continues to damage children’s early development and creates stark inequalities before they reach age three. 

“This gap has remained persistent now for three consecutive years and these inequalities will continue unless urgent and decisive action is taken.”

Council leader Stephen McCabe says it is vital that disadvantaged children get the support they need at the earliest possible stage.

He said: “It is all about early intervention with pre-fives and supporting their families, in particular the most vulnerable families.

“All the evidence shows that if you can intervene at the earliest opportunity you can make a real difference.

“We have invested in our early years education.

“Research shows that you have to work with the family as well, and we have made education our priority.”

The new figures show that during the 27-30 month checks, 26 per cent of the toddlers were found to have difficulties in at least one category.

This compares with only 11 per cent in some of the ‘better-off’ council areas.