Developmental Delay

Developmental delays in children can be obvious or difficult to detect.  Most developmental delays in children are due to birth trauma or birth hypoxia, although some cases are due genetic problems.  Sometimes it is difficult to detect what the developmental delay is caused by.

Major delays can be found in the following areas: mental, emotional, or physical.  Each child develops at his or her own rate but infants and toddlers who have suffered congenital brain injury will clearly show impairment in at least one major area.  Early treatment is what’s needed for enhancing the development of delayed children so they can help these children catch up.

Developmental delays in infants and toddlers include the following:

  • Motor skills
  • Emotional skills
  • Language skills
  • Vision skills
  • Cognitive skills

A delay can occur in just one area of function or all areas of function.  If most areas are damaged, it is called “global developmental delay”.  Such a thing can happen as a result of a genetic defect, fragile X syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome or severe medical problems which can be due to prematurity or birth trauma.

Language and speech delays are the most common types of developmental delay.  Speech involves verbal expression, while language involves things like understanding the spoken word and following directions.

Different issues can be involved including exposure to more than one language in infancy, having a learning disability, or having a lack of motor control in the speech muscles.  In addition, a child can have a hearing loss or autism as a cause of language deficit.

By one year, the child should say at least one word, such as “mama”.

By two years, the toddler should speak at least fifteen words and should use two-word combinations.

Vision delays usually show up after six months of age.  All children have blurry vision at the age of six months or less.  This improves by one year of age.

There are particular causes of visual delays, including being nearsighted or farsighted, having a lazy eye or amblyopia, developing infantile cataracts, an inherited condition, or having retinopathy of prematurity, an avoidable problem.  Some children can be cross eyed, a condition called strabismus.

The warning signs of visual changes include being unable to follow moving objects or notice hands by two months of age.   A child should have minimal sensitivity to light and should follow objects a foot away by age six months.

Motor developmental delays involve crawling, fine motor skills, and even walking.  Delays can be seen in preterm infants or in infants with cerebral palsy.  Both can be preventable causes of motor delay.  Kids who come from an institutionalized background can have motor delay as can kids with cognitive delay, ataxia, muscle myopathy, spina bifida and visual disturbances.

Treatment includes physical therapy and occupational therapy; these should be performed as soon as the diagnosis is made.

The warning signs of a child’s motor skill delays include the following:

  • By three to four months of age, the child doesn’t hold objects, support his head well, bring object to mouth, or support body weight partially when feet are on the floor.
  • By seven months, the child has muscles that are too floppy or stiff, doesn’t reach for object, can’t get objects to mouth, and doesn’t roll over from back to front or from front to back. The child cannot sit without help.
  • By one year, the child does not crawl, drags one side of his body when crawling and can’t stand without support.
  • By 2 years, be concerned if the child cannot walk, walks only on his toes, and cannot push a toy on wheels.

There can be social and emotional delays in development.  There can be problems with interaction with adults or children and usually show up before the child begins kindergarten. Possible causes include early childhood neglect, cognitive delays from birth, and attachment problems with their parent.    It can also be a part of pervasive developmental disorder, which includes Asperger syndrome, autism, Rhett syndrome and child disintegrative disorder.

It is important for the physician investigating these disorders to understand the interplay between birth trauma or birth hypoxia and later disabilities in the various developmental skills. For Detail: Sydney Negligence Lawyers