Information for Patients
Developmental disabilities are severe, long-term problems. They may be physical, such as blindness. They may affect mental ability, such as learning disabilities. Or the problem can be both physical and mental, such as Down syndrome. The problems are usually life-long, and can affect everyday living.
There are many causes of developmental disabilities, including
- Genetic or chromosome abnormalities. These cause conditions such as Down syndrome and Rett syndrome.
- Prenatal exposure to substances. For example, drinking alcohol when pregnant can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
- Certain infections in pregnancy
- Preterm birth
Often there is no cure, but treatment can help the symptoms. Treatments include physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Special education classes and psychological counseling can also help.
NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Your family history includes health information about you and your close relatives. Families have many factors in common, including their genes, environment, and lifestyle. Looking at these factors can help you figure out whether you have a higher risk for certain health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
Having a family member with a disease raises your risk, but it does not mean that you will definitely get it. Knowing that you are at risk gives you a chance to reduce that risk by following a healthier lifestyle and getting tested as needed.
You can get started by talking to your relatives about their health. Draw a family tree and add the health information. Having copies of medical records and death certificates is also helpful.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention