A developmental disability is a long-term issue, while developmental delays may improve with intervention and can disappear altogether once a child catches up in their development (Royal Children’s Hospital, 2009). However, there are certain red flags that are important to be aware of that may contribute to the potential for developmental delays in children (Abubakar, Holding, Van De Vijver, Newton, and Van Baar, 2010). Speech delays in children are common, they are in fact the most common type of developmental delay (McLaughlin, 2011).
Children who have a very slow rate of learning often cause concern in the first two years of life (Abubakar et al, 2010). Children with a mild intellectual disability may not cause concern until their third or fourth year with a delay in their talking (Royal Children’s Hospital, 2009). However, all children develop at their own pace and therefore some delays are noticed in children’s kindergarten years then their play and learning skills are less well developed compared to other children of similar age (Royal Children’s Hospital, 2009). Children are at genetic risk for major developmental delays by being born with a genetic or chromosomal abnormality (How Kids Learn, 2014). Environmental risk results from exposure to harmful toxins, such as lead or drugs, or other infections that are passed from mother to child during pregnancy, including measles or HIV, also place the child at a greater risk for developmental delays (How Kids Learn, 2014). Prenatal factors such as viral infections, and toxemia place children at risk (Dunlap, 2014). Perinatal factors including prolonged labor (lasting longer than twenty-four hours), and delivery may lead to injuries or lack of oxygen for the child (Dunlap, 2014). Also, children with low birth weight and premature babies are at a higher risk. Postnatal factors, such as maternal deprivation can also affect a child’s development (Dunlap, 2014). Sensory stimulation is crucial for optimal infant development, and with maternal deprivation, infants receive very limited stimulation (Dunlap, 2014). This response from mothers are more likely to occur after an unwanted pregnancy, if a mother has a chronic illness, or if the mother is addicted to drugs or alcohol.
In the journal article, Children at risk for developmental delay can be recognized by stunting, being underweight, ill health, little maternal schooling or high gravidity, there was an investigation to identify markers of risk status which can easily be monitored in resource limited settings for the identification of children in need of early development. The study involved eighty five children in Kilifi, Kenya, aged between 2 to 10 months at recruitment, which were involved in a ten month follow up. They hypothesized that maternal schooling, gravidity, child health and anthropometric characteristics impact both the initial development status and the rate of acquisition of new milestones (Abubakar et al, 2010). Kilifi, Kenya is a largely rural area at the Kenyan coast. The majority of families in Kilifi depend upon subsistence farming (Abubakar et al, 2010). It is estimated that seventy to eighty percent of children in Kilifi are born at home, under the supervision of untrained traditional birth attendants (Abubakar et al, 2010). Children representative of the normal population were sampled using stratified random sampling and recruited through five government-run clinics located across the study area (Abubakar et al, 2010). Children qualified for the study if they met the following criteria: a) aged 2 to 10 months, b) parents spoke Kiswahili or one of the Mijikenda dialects as their primary language, c) families lived within the designated study areas, and d) parent gave informed consent (Abubakar et al, 2010). Children were seen every month for a total of 10 months at a clinic accompanied by their mother.