Any significant delay with a child achieving certain milestones in normal development such as walking, talking, etc., may be characterized as developmental delay. Such delays are often the result of some problems or complications during the delivery of the baby; although when a child reaches certain milestones and then regresses in development and loses certain abilities, the cause is usually some type of metabolic or inborn error of metabolism. Many pediatricians will downplay and seek to reassure parents about any delay in a child reaching certain normal milestones, since some children may progress more slowly than others, but they eventually catch up. However, developmental delay is often the result of some degree of hypoxia or trauma to the brain during delivery, even if the baby appears to be healthy and normal in the hours after birth. Such children require detailed neurologic evaluation to determine the nature and extent of any brain injury, which can appear to be more subtle since early intervention with stimulation and therapy can improve the child’s overall brain function.
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