Causes of Delay In Mental Development In Infants
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One of the most significant controversies in psychological thought is the discussion of nature versus nurture. This is the notion that a person's characteristics and behavior are the result of his or her biological being or nature, or the characteristics and behavior is the result of an interaction with the environment or nurture. This controversy was important for many decades because it was believed that if maladaptive behaviors or characteristics were the result of nurture, they could then be prevented. In terms of reviewing the possible causes of delays in the mental development of infants, this controversy continues to be appropriate.
Mental Development in Infants
In the Gale Encyclopedia of Childhood and Adolescence, it is suggested that reasons of both a nature and nurture makeup may result in developmental delays for children. Such delays are typically determined by the following:
- Establishing what the appropriate milestones are for various infant skills.
- Progress toward developing these skills through the use of such measurements as the Bayley Scales of Infant Development is used to access the level of the infant's progress.
- Measuring the cognitive development skills of infants with certain disorders or prenatal backgrounds and comparing them to infants of normal backgrounds or no disorders, associations may be established.
Most notably, the Bayley Scales indicate that such delays might be the result of a neurological disorder that is degenerative. Additionally, these delays may be an indicator of lack of adequate prenatal care in terms of the mother using chemical substances such as alcohol or harmful drugs.
Delay in Mental Development
This later notion is supported throughout the research literature. Authors present a literature review concerning the impact upon cognitive delays resulting from maternal prenatal drug usage. Most of the research concerning infants is not experimental due to the ethical concerns of such study.
However, there appear to be numerous experiments performed upon prenatal mammals to determine the impact noted by these authors. Again, once developmental milestones are established for these mammals, it can be determined in an experiment whether a certain condition, agent, or disorder has an impact on the cognitive development of the organism. One might criticize this method in terms of generalizing the data of rat pups to human infants. Especially since it appears that the human brain has a certain amount of plasticity with regard to development.