What are developmental problems?

Developmental problems are referred to under the umbrella term “developmental delays,” which describe any ongoing delay in a child’s meeting age-specific developmental milestones (as opposed to physical growth). To be a genuine medical symptom (as opposed to a child’s temporary lag in one area, which is normal), a developmental problem must affect a chain of developmental milestones and must be ongoing. Most developmental problems are recognized before the child’s second birthday.

Development problems fall into several categories affecting ongoing functional developmental milestones. These milestone categories include language skills, cognitive development (thinking and learning), social and emotional development, and gross motor and fine motor skills. Most developmental problems cross over, combining several types of developmental milestones or problems within one disorder.

Causes of developmental delay are widespread, but include inherited disorders, mental retardation, neurological damage, autistic disorders, degenerative diseases, social or environmental deprivations, deafness, and many more causes. Infants with unrecognized (treatable) medical conditions, such as congenital hypothyroidism, can have symptoms of developmental delay. Some developmental problems can be corrected or improved by addressing causes such as poor vision, deafness, and environmental factors.

Developmental problems are ongoing, persistent, and do not go away on their own. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if your child has a seizure; severe difficulty breathing, which may be combined with pale or blue lips; loss of consciousness, even for a brief moment; severe or constant vomiting; rapid heart rate; if an older child is in danger of hurting self or others; or if you suspect child abuse or neglect. Seek prompt medical care if your infant or toddler has poor eye contact; does not respond to his or her name; does not respond to others; seems isolated; is obsessed with repetitive actions; does not walk or talk within a reasonable time frame; seems to not hear or see properly; or has excessively aggressive behaviors.

If your child’s developmental problems cause you concern, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with developmental problems?

Developmental problems are unique in that within any single diagnosis or disorder, more than one body system may be involved. In addition, many developmental disorders—especially learning disabilities—embrace all categories and types of developmental milestones, whether social, language, fine or gross motor, or cognitive skills. This can make it impossible to categorize the symptoms of most dev... Read more about developmental problemssymptoms


What causes developmental problems?

Many developmental problems remain idiopathic—that is, they do not yet have a known cause. Causes can involve a number of body systems, but most are neurological impairments. Heredity is a factor in some disorders, and there are a few other identified causes.

External or environmental causes of developmental problems

Developmental problems may be caused by external fact... Read more about developmental problemscauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Genetics and Birth Defects

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