Read More: What is global developmental delay/autism spectrum disorder?
Developmental delay is a term that describes a child who is behind in his or her milestones. Those milestones can be physical in nature or they might be cognitive, or learning-based.
15 percent of all children have some kind of development delay
The Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, estimates that about 15%1. of children have some form of developmental delay. This means that 15 out of every 100 children have some form of physical or learning-based delays.
The cause of developmental delay may be hard to identify in a child and some families may never know why their child has these challenges. In general, causes of developmental delay can be either environmental or genetic.
Some examples of environmental causes of developmental delay include fetal alcohol syndrome or maternal infections during pregnancy. These are two examples of environmental factors that may change the way a child's brain develops and can lead to delays when the child begins to roll over, crawl, walk, and talk.
Genetic changes can affect children in many ways
Genetic changes can present very differently in a child. Some genetic conditions will affect both physical milestones and a child's learning-based milestones. Sometimes, a genetic condition may only impact one aspect of a child's development.
There are literally hundreds, even thousands of different genetic causes for developmental delay and it is very important for families to understand the root cause of their child's developmental delay. There are a variety of reasons why identifying the root cause may be important to families.
1. Boyle CA, Boulet S, Schieve L, Cohen RA, Blumberg SJ, Yeargin-Allsopp M, Visser S, Kogan MD. Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in US Children, 1997–2008. Pediatrics. 2011; 27: 1034-1042.