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Top 7 Ways to Detect, Treat, and Prevent Developmental Delays

Healthy Babies - Practices in Pregnancy Reduce Developmental Delays

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Updated November 30, 2009

Some developmental delays and disabilities among babies and young children are preventable. Some conditions can be treated or eliminated when early detection and the right treatments are provided to infants and toddlers. Learn ways you can recognize, treat, and prevent developmental delays and disabilities in babies, young children, kindergarteners, and preschoolers.

1. Contact Your Public Health Agency for Programs for Healthy Babies and Toddlers

Many local public health agencies provide educational programs for women who are pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant. They often provide screening services to help you determine and address any risk-factors that may affect your child's health and well-being. Many agencies also provide free programs to help you improve your health and give your child the best possible start in life. Smoking, substance abuse, and lifestyle counseling and growth programs are available. Public health agencies can also assist you with referrals to other agencies and low or no-cost health services. Early intervention agencies can help in identifying early signs of learning disabilities (LDs).

2. Talk with Your Doctor About the Importance of Folic Acid

Many doctors and public health agencies recommend the use of Folic Acid to prevent Neural Tube Defects (NTDs), also called spina bifida or open spine. Approximately 70% of NTDs may be prevented by use of Folic Acid in the early pre-natal period. Some doctors recommend using Folic Acid before becoming pregnant as well.

3. Infant Hearing Screenings Detect Early Deafness and Hearing Problems

Many hospitals screen newborns for hearing problems before they leave the hospital. If you are not sure, ask. Early treatment and intervention for hearing problems can possibly increase the possibility of your child being able to participate in a regular education program and lessen the negative impact of hearing problems on early language development.

4. Immunizations Can Prevent Disabling Childhood Diseases

Immunizations can be controversial because of potential side-effects, yet many states require them my law. It is important to discuss concerns you may have with your child's doctor to get the most up-to-date information on the potential risks and benefits of immunizations. Some childhood diseases can cause lasting physical and intellectual disabilities. Further, certain childhood diseases can strike adults and are much more severe when that happens. Your doctor is the best resource to weigh your legal obligations and the importance of immunization.

5. Learn About Newborn Metabolic Blood Screening in Your State

All states require some metabolic blood screening for infants. The March of Dimes recommends 29 screenings and provides public information on them. Talk with your doctor about what screenings are required and any additional screenings that could be recommended based on your unique genetic history.

6. Early Assessment and Treatment of Eye Problems - Have Your Child's Eyes Examined

Early eye examinations can catch visual problems such as amblyopia, which can be addressed and sometimes reversed with early treatment.

7. Contact Your Local School District for Early Childhood Screenings

Because early detection is important in the prevention of specific learning disabilities (slds), screening is important. Local school districts and early childhood intervention agencies provide screening services and are typically free of charge. For more information on screening programs, contact your pediatrician, local school district, or Head Start Program for contact information for assessment providers available in your area.

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