International Day of Persons with Disabilities: 6 early warning signs of delayed growth in children

Children's development encompasses various aspects, from gross and fine motor skills to language and communication abilities. This International Disability Day, watch out for the symptoms of growth delays in children.
Child with disability
A child with disability requires handling with care. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Ramesh Konanki Published: 3 Dec 2023, 08:59 am IST
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International Day of Persons with Disabilities, on December 3 every year, is dedicated to raising awareness and promoting the rights and well-being of people with disabilities. In this reference, it is crucial to be aware of one overlooked aspect—early detection of growth delays in children as this can be a precursor to various disabilities.

Growth delay in children is a condition where a child’s physical growth and development lag behind the expected milestones for their age. It is a critical concern that requires prompt attention and intervention. Recognising the signs of growth delay early on can significantly help with children’s health, ensuring they receive the support and care they need to thrive.

6 signs of growth delays in children

1. Gross motor skills delays

  • Not rolling over by 7 months: Rolling over and crawling are fundamental gross motor skills that should typically be achieved by this age.
  • Not sitting independently by 10 months: Independent sitting is a significant milestone indicating core strength and motor control.
  • Not walking by 18 months: Walking independently is a major developmental achievement and a potential concern if delayed.

2. Lack of fine motor skills

  • Frequent fisted position after 6 months: Prolonged fisting may suggest challenges in fine motor skill development.
  • Not using a mature pincer grasp by 18 months: The pincer grasp is crucial for refined hand movements.
child game
Keep a check on your child’s growth. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Language and communication challenges

  • No babbling, pointing, or gestures by 12 months: Early communication skills are vital indicators of language development.
  • No two-word phrases by 24 months: Language progression is closely monitored, and delays can signal potential issues.

4. Social and emotional difficulties

  • Not smiling by 4 months: Social responsiveness is a key aspect of emotional development.
  • Not engaging in pretend play by 24 months: Pretend play showcases cognitive and social growth.
  • Not making eye contact: Difficulty making eye contact during interactions is a well-known sign.

Also read: How to identify autism early to avoid complications?

5. Behavioral and attention issues

  • Showing aggression: Persistent behavioral challenges, such as extreme tantrums or aggression.
  • Demanding attention all the time: Difficulty sustaining attention or focusing on tasks appropriate for their age.

6. Learning difficulties

  • Not able to learn things: Struggles with basic concepts like numbers, letters, or colors.
  • Struggle to follow instructions: Challenges in understanding and following instructions.
Child with growth delays
Know how to deal with children with disability. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What can parents do about it?

  • Track developmental milestones: Regularly observe and document your child’s developmental progress.
  • Discuss concerns with the pediatrician: Utilize vaccination visits to address both physical growth and developmental milestones.
  • Avoid drawing conclusions. Consult the pediatrician before making assumptions about potential developmental issues.

Also read: Have children with special needs? Here are 5 ways in which you can cope with them

What can paediatricians do?

  • Display developmental milestones: Provide educational materials to inform parents about expected developmental stages.
  • Routine checks during visits: Consistently assess both physical growth and developmental milestones during well visits.
  • Initiate early intervention: If red flags are identified, prioritize early intervention and conduct thorough evaluations.

While regular check-ups with paediatricians are essential to monitor a child’s growth trajectory, parents and caregivers should also be vigilant in observing signs that may indicate potential growth delays.

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About the Author

Dr Ramesh Konanki, Consultant Pediatric Neurologist, Rainbow Children's Hospital, Secunderabad ...Read More

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