There are a variety of medical terms used to refer to a person with significantly impaired cognitive functioning, including developmental disability, mental retardation, intellectual disability, and developmental delay. The term mental retardation if often used but society tends to prefer developmental disability or intellectual disability as mental retardation may sometimes be seen as politically incorrect and disparaging to the person with the disorder or to the person's family.
There are a variety of developmental screening tests that can help determine age-appropriate adaptive behaviors. The following may indicate signs of developmental disability or mental retardation:
- Intelligent quotient below 70 on a IQ test
- Developmental delays compared with children of a similar age
- Abnormal Denver developmental screening test
- Adaptive behavior score below average
Children with developmental disabilities learn more slowly than other children. Areas where they may take longer to learn than the average child include language, social skills, dressing, and eating. Since learning skills are affected, children with developmental disabilities may require special education classes, more repetition, and a lot of patience by teachers and family.
What causes developmental disabilities?
Developmental disabilities can be caused by a number of factors, including infections, chromosomal abnormalities, genetic abnormalities, metabolic problems, toxicity, medical malpractice, and unknown factors. Infections such as meningitis or rubella can cause developmental disabilities. Chromosomal issues including Down syndrome can be a cause. Metabolic issues can include hyperbilirubinemia. Toxicity can include exposure to drugs, including through the mother, or poisoning.
Medical malpractice causes may include a traumatic brain injury such as an obstetrician improperly using the forceps or vacuum device to help extract the baby during a difficult delivery, or a lack of oxygen flow to the brain of the baby before, during, or after delivery. If medical malpractice is the cause of the developmental disability, the parents have a right to file a medical malpractice claim and may be awarded compensation, including both economic and non-economic damages.
It's important to understand there is a statute of limitations which sets a maximum time limit to which a family may file a medical malpractice claim. Since the signs of developmental disabilities may not be apparent for several years, it's important for the family to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney specializing in developmental disabilities and other birth injuries as soon as possible after discovering the disorder. If your child is showing signs of developmental disabilities and you think medical malpractice may be responsible, contact Dr. Bruce Fagel right away for a free consultation. Dr. Fagel is a medical malpractice attorney and a licensed medical doctor.
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