Understand Developmental Disabilities

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. During this month-long observance we look to raise awareness and educate the community on developmental disabilities.

Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. These conditions begin during a child’s developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime.

Developmental disabilities occur among all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Recent estimates in the United States show that about one in six, or about 17%, of children aged 3 through 17 years have one or more developmental disabilities, such as:

  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Hearing Loss
  • Vision impairment

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) most developmental disabilities are believed to be caused by a complex mix of factors including genetics; parental health and behaviors (such as smoking and drinking) during pregnancy; complications during birth; infections the mother might have during pregnancy or the baby might have very early in life; and exposure of the mother or child to high levels of environmental toxins, such as lead. For some developmental disabilities, such as fetal alcohol syndrome is caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

Diagnosing a developmental disability involves monitoring when children reach developmental milestones, such as when they first speak, crawl and walk and how they behave and learn. As a parent, you know your child best. If you feel your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, speak with your pediatrician and share your concerns because early intervention is vital in helping your child overcome barriers and lead a full life.

If you would like to make an appointment with a pediatrician at Jamaica Hospital, please call our Ambulatory Care Center at 718-206-7001.