Child development refers to the process in which children go through changes in skill development during predictable time periods, called developmental milestones. Developmental delay occurs when children have no reached these milestones by the expected time period. For example, if the normal range for learning to walk is between 9 and 15 months, and a 20-month-old child has still not begun walking, this would be considered a developmental delay.
Developmental delays can occur in all five areas of development or may just happen in one or more of those areas. Also the growth in each area of development is related to growth I the other areas. So if there is a difficulty in one area, such as speech and language, it is likely to influence development in other areas like social and emotional.
Children are placed at genetic risk by being born with a genetic or chromosomal abnormality. A good example of genetic risk is Down syndrome, a disorder that causes developmental delay because of an abnormal chromosome. Environmental risk results from exposure to harmful agents either before or after birth, and can include things like poor maternal nutrition or exposure to toxins like lead or drugs or infections that are passed form a mother to her baby during pregnancy. Environmental risk also includes a child’s life experiences. For example, children who are born prematurely face severe poverty, mother’s depression, poor nutrition, or lack of care and are at increased risk for developmental delays. Risk factors have a cumulative impact upon development. As the number of risk factors increases, a child is put at greater risk for developmental delay.
There are several general “warning signs” of possible