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  • Writer's pictureEmily Reynolds, MSOTR

Developmental Delay What Caused It? Quick Guide

Developmental delays can be concerning for you as a parent. You find yourself searching for any way to help your child get back on the age-appropriate developmental track. Here is a quick guide to understanding developmental delay and what could have gone wrong to cause delays in your child's system.

developmental delay complications with pregnancy

Babies develop a set of primitive reflexes while they are still in the womb. These primitive reflexes are meant to be present for a specific window of time. When they are retained or do not integrate, it can cause delays in developmental milestones.

Sometimes, complications with pregnancy can interfere with the way the brain and nervous system are formed. Stress during pregnancy can be a big factor. It can impact the development of the nervous system in the unborn and even affect the unborn's emotional and behavioral responses later on. Many other medical complications can happen during pregnancy that can contribute to developmental delay.

Developmental Delay with retained primitive reflexes

Primitive reflexes should be present in a full-term, healthy baby in utero. Babies use their primitive reflexes to participate and assist in their birth. How cool is that? Every contraction helps to prime the nervous system as it gets ready to "ignite" once birth has occurred.

Now let's talk about the birth itself. This one single event is a huge predictor of future neuro-development.

complications during birth lead to developmental delay

Some other risk factors for developmental delay include too quick of a birth (precipitous birth) as well as a prolonged birth.

Babies were meant to be squeezed through the birth canal and use their primitive reflexes A.K.A. the "cardinal movements of labor." When physicians have to intervene with forceps or a vacuum, this can cause stress in both mom and baby. This also puts a lot of force on the head of the baby. In this case, the baby is not using its reflexes rather it is being forcefully removed. This is thought to contribute to retained primitive reflexes, especially a Moro reflex.

developmental delay in developmental milestones

Throughout the first year of life, the primitive and postural reflexes are there to protect the baby and help the baby achieve developmental milestones such as lifting the head, rolling, sitting, crawling, walking, and talking. Complications during this period can impair the natural way the reflexes are supposed to work.

If you have concerns about your baby or older child and you recognize some of these risk factors that could have happened during pregnancy, birth, or infancy do not fret, we can help! Primitive reflex integration is a powerful tool to help eliminate immaturity in the nervous system.

Emily Reynolds, MSOTR  helps kids with Developmental Delay

About the Author:

Emily Reynolds, MSOTR is the founder of ReSprout Therapy. She is a pediatric Occupational Therapist who specializes in neurodevelopment and reflex integration.

Emily loves working with parents and kids to find the source of the problem and create lasting changes that impact daily lives and the long-term future of the child.

ReSprout Therapy treats Developmental Delay


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