How to Tell When Developmental Delays in Your Child Signal a Bigger Issue
Many parents describe the day of their child’s birth as the happiest of their lives, filled with joy at the prospect of raising their newborn to become a successful member of society. In some cases, however, it becomes clear as their child grows that there is something not quite right about their development. It could be an inability to speak complete words, a lack of fine motor control, or just excessive drooling, but a parent can often tell when their child is not developing properly. Thankfully, many children outgrow these delays with time, but there are always cases in which developmental delays in a child signal a bigger issue, such as a previously undiscovered birth injury. To find out more, keep reading as the Miami birth injury attorney from The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked expands on this topic.
Milestones for Identifying Developmental Delays in Your Child
One of the most important tools for a new parent is an understanding of the developmental milestones their child should reach, if healthy. These markers lay out a standard timeline of childhood development – from birth through adolescence – allowing parents to more easily identify whether their child’s physical or mental growth might be delayed. The following are the developmental milestones from birth through the age of 12:
- Birth to 1 year old: Your infant should babble, smile in social situations, drink from a cup, understand and play simple games like peek-a-boo, roll over, sit or stand on their own, understand the word “no,” use terms like “mama” and “dada,” and walk (with some support).
- Ages 1 to 3: Your toddler should be able to feed themselves, run, walk backward, name common objects, imitate speech, use the stairs, dress themselves with only minor assistance, draw lines, and remember and say their first and last name.
- Ages 3 to 6: Your preschooler should be able to draw simple shapes (circles, squares, stick figures), recognize and use words, understand ideas about size and time, show rudimentary reading skills, skip, balance on their own, and do some things independently.
- Ages 6 to 12: Your child should be able to play sports at a basic level, develop more comprehensive reading skills, establish a daily routine, start showing signs of puberty, lose their baby teeth, and recognize and interact with their peers.
If your child has passed one of these age ranges without hitting an associated milestone, they may be developmentally delayed; speak with your pediatrician to be sure.
When is a Developmental Delay a Sign of a Bigger Issue?
Because developmental delays can come in a variety of forms and magnitudes, it can be difficult to say with certainty when a specific delay signals a bigger issue in your child. The best a parent can often do is to keep an eye on the milestones listed above; if your child consistently fails to meet one or more of these goals over time, or if the problem you’ve noticed is not improving or getting worse, it could be a sign of a more serious, lasting issue. If this is the case for your child, consult with a doctor as soon as possible and explain the nature and extent of the delay to help them make a diagnosis.
Bigger Issues that Cause Developmental Delays
There are many different injuries, conditions, and environmental factors that could cause a child to experience developmental delays, including those caused before, during, or immediately after their birth. When an infant is born, they are in an extremely vulnerable state, which makes it easy for a negligent obstetrician or other health care provider to harm them by simply not exercising the proper care.
One of the most serious types of injury that can cause delays in a child’s development is a brain injury. Because the skull of a newborn is extraordinarily fragile, external pressures caused during birth can damage the brain through the skull. It is not uncommon for the doctor delivering a child to use forceps or a vacuum extractor to facilitate the birth, but these tools require care and a significant level of skill. A doctor who fails to properly use these devices can cause significant birth injuries, including:
- Cerebral palsy, in which damage to the brain inhibits muscle control
- Erb’s palsy, in which the arm or hand is paralyzed due to a brachial plexus birth injury
- A neonatal subgaleal hematoma, a type of hemorrhage birth injury
Even when a doctor performs a successful delivery without physically harming the infant, it is still possible for negligence to play a role in harming your baby. For example, infant jaundice is a common condition that is generally diagnosed and treated easily, with no lasting effects on the child. However, if a doctor fails to spot jaundice or treat it with the appropriate level of caution, it can develop into a condition called kernicterus, a severe and incurable form of infant brain damage. If your child has experienced a delayed development due to a doctor’s negligence, contact a Miami medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.
Miami Birth Injury Attorney Offering Free and Private Consultations
If your child’s development has been adversely impacted by a doctor’s careless actions, know that you don’t have to deal with the consequences alone. Our Miami personal injury lawyer has years of experience helping families seek justice for childbirth-related harm; let our team work on your behalf to fight for the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case, visit The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked online or call (305) 694-2676 today.