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Reasons for Delayed Physical Development in Toddlers

by Candice Coleman

In the early years, toddlers may grow by leaps and bounds. Parents and doctors may grow concerned if a toddler's growth pattern is slower than the average. While some developmental delays may be the result of another condition, some children may grow more slowly than average. A pediatrician can assess a toddler's growth for any unusual signs.

Failure to Thrive

Failure to thrive is a condition in which a child's growth is slowed or stopped, according to KidsHealth, a child development site. There are many possible causes of failure to thrive. Parents may purposely or unintentionally restrict the amount of food the child needs. Physical problems that can complicate eating, such as malformation of the mouth, may need correction with surgery. Illnesses like urinary tract infections or metabolic problems that make it difficult to break down food may also cause failure to thrive. A pediatrician will run tests to figure out why your child is no longer growing.

Growth and Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your little one is taking the time to build up the strength to take on the outside world. Complications during pregnancy or birth can cause developmental delays in children for the rest of their lives, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Mothers who smoked during pregnancy may have an underweight baby at birth, and growth problems may continue beyond birth. Babies who contracted infections during pregnancy or shortly after birth may also show developmental delays during the toddler years, along with children who were born prematurely, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Genetic Reasons

Some toddlers simply grow more slowly than the average, and while parents may be concerned, a pediatrician can offer reassurance. Growth problems may only be a concern if a child's growth pattern suddenly changes.Other genetic problems, like Down syndrome, may cause shorter stature than average, according to the University of Michigan Health System. If you and your partner are short or either of you carries a genetic abnormality that reduces your height, it may be passed on to your child.

When and How to Act on Delayed Development

The early years set the stage for the rest of your child's life. As soon as you suspect that your child's physical development is delayed, speak to a pediatrician about your concerns. Every state also has a program called "Early Intervention," which serves children up to age 3, according to the National Centers for Infants, Toddlers and Families. Contact school districts in your area about their Early Intervention teams. An Early Intervention team will assess your child and notify you of any additional tests or services that your little one needs.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

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