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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