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Factors That Contribute to Developmental Delay

by
author image Susan Ward
Susan Ward, M.A., writes about family, parenting, and children's mental health issues for multiple publications. She has been published in various special interest publications, both in print and online, in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the U.K. since 1989. She's also authored two books and numerous booklets.
Factors That Contribute to Developmental Delay
toddler sitting with mom attempting to grab a peg from development peg board Photo Credit Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Overview

Developmental delays occur when a child does not reach developmental milestones, such as rolling over, sitting up, walking and talking, at the same time as other children. There are five main categories of developmental delays: gross motor, fine motor, language, cognitive and social. An example of a developmental delay includes a 4-year-old who is not talking. "My Child Without Limits" explains that children are often delayed in more than one area. A child with speech and language issues, for example, may also have cognitive or social delays.

Genetic Factors

Genetic factors cause some developmental delays. These include diagnoses such as Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome and muscular dystrophy. All of these result in multiple delays that influence physical, communication and social development. Down syndrome might cause delays in several areas with significant delays relating to brain function. Muscular dystrophy, on the other hand, affects walking, breathing and other muscle-dependent functions, but not the brain.

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Biological Factors

Biological factors may affect developmental delays. These include hearing loss, vision loss, lead poisoning or head injuries. These biological factors generate delays ranging from mild to severe. A mild head injury may cause delays that are reversible through physical or occupational therapy. Alternatively, profound hearing loss may cause life-long issues regarding communication.

Pregnancy Factors

Pregnancy and delivery issues may cause developmental delays. Pregnancy-related issues affecting the fetus include Rh incompatibility (blood incompatibility), alcohol and drug exposure, viral infections and toxemia (blood borne toxic substances). During labor and delivery, difficulties may occur causing developmental delays. These include prolonged or difficult labor leading to head injuries or lack of oxygen. In addition, premature or low birth weight babies may experience developmental delays.

Environmental Factors

The environment and upbringing surrounding a child may cause developmental delays. An example of an environmental issue includes neglect and abuse. Dr. Bruce Perry, founder of ChildTrauma.org and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago, emphasizes that lack of consistent care in early childhood may result in motor, language, social and cognitive developmental delays. Other environmental issues causing developmental delays include parental depression, lack of immunizations and malnutrition.

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References

Demand Media