What are the signs of intellectual disability in newborns?

Intellectual disability is a neurodevelopmental condition due to many causes. This condition is characterized by impairment of adaptive function and intellectual before 18 years of age. It is an important condition as far as public health is concerned because of the number of cases is high and all of them need support devices. Child Specialist in Kuala Lumpur is always ready to help you and your child in dealing with any health issues especially intellectual disability. Intellectual disability is defined as a neurodevelopmental disorder which starts during childhood with the impairment of both adaptive skills and intelligence affecting at least one of the following:

  • Conceptual
  • Practical
  • Social

  Intellectual disability replaced the term mental retardation. Intellectual disability is divided into syndromic and non-syndromic intellectual disability. Syndromic intellectual disability is characterized by the presence of recognizable signs and symptoms, while non-syndromic intellectual disability is without any recognizable sign or symptom.

Children below five years old are often diagnosed as having Global Developmental Delay (GDD). Not all children with GDD will be having an intellectual disability. The diagnosis of GDD is used temporarily until a more accurate assessment can be done later than 5 years of age. Children with Global Developmental Delay are children who fail to achieve normal developmental milestones according to their respective ages.

  The clinical features or the signs and symptoms of intellectual disability are:

  • Speech delay
  • Immature behaviour
  • Immature play
  • Underdeveloped self-help skills
  • Learning difficulties
  • Younger siblings overtake the patient in terms of developmental milestones
  • Fail to meet expected milestones during a developmental screening

  Children with severe intellectual disabilities are diagnosed earlier than children with mild intellectual disabilities. They are usually diagnosed at the age of 2 years of age. There are few other conditions which usually accompany this condition. Those conditions are:

  • Congenital heart disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Dental caries
  • Constipation
  • Short stature
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hearing loss
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Lead poisoning
  • Hearing loss
  • Seizure
  • Obesity
  • Undescended testes
  • Sleep disorders
  • Refractive errors
  • Cataract
  • Strabismus

    Children with intellectual disability are also at a higher risk to suffer from other neurodevelopmental disorders such as:

  • Autism
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Learning disabilities
  • Feeding and eating disorders
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Movement disorders

  They are also at a higher risk of being abused, suffer a physical injury, and be neglected. Individuals with intellectual disabilities are liable to injure themselves when they are stressed, depressed, or anxious due to limitations in communication. History taking, physical examination, and screening tools are used before a diagnosis of intellectual disability are made.

  After a diagnosis is confirmed, a treatment plan can be started. The goals of treating intellectual disability children are:

  • Reduce the effects of disability
  • Prevent worsening of child’s condition
  • Optimize the child’s function for daily routine and tasks

  Things parents and doctors should consider in taking care of intellectual disability child are:

  • Effective communication strategies
  • Encourage independent functioning
  • Support for family members

  Early interventions for intellectual disability are:

  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Diet plan from a dietician
  • Social support
  • Behavioural interventions

  The federal government of many countries usually supports a range of services for intellectual disability individuals till the age of 21. Child Specialist in Kuala Lumpur is always ready to help you and your child in dealing with any health issues especially intellectual disability.

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