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Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

What are Neurodevelopmental Disabilities? Neurodevelopmental disabilities are impairments in social, emotional, academic, or occupational functioning that develop in the early stages of development. The manifestation of these disabilities can vary significantly in severity and type, ranging from learning disabilities, and problems associated with executive function, to global limitations of intelligence or social skills.

What causes Neurodevelopmental Disabilities?

The etiology of neurodevelopmental disabilities is thought to be multifactorial, involving the interaction of genetic vulnerabilities with biological, psychosocial, and environmental risk factors, including:

  • Maternal use of alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs during pregnancy.
  • Lower socioeconomic status.
  • Preterm birth and low birthweight.
  • Prenatal and childhood exposure to environmental toxins, such as lead, methylmercury, PCBs, organophosphate pesticides.

What disorders are characterized by Neurodevelopmental Disabilities?

  • Neurodevelopmental disorders include:
  • Autism
  • Intellectual disability
  • Impaired vision and hearing
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Conduct disorder

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2015, October). America’s children and the environment (No. 3). EPA. https://www.epa.gov/americaschildrenenvironment/health-neurodevelopmental-disorders