Pediatric Integrative & Functional Medicine

Developmental Delays

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Developmental Delays

There is never a more profound period of exponential human growth than when a child is formed in the womb and in their first few years of life. Growth is typically predictable, measurable, and a sign of health and resilience in a child. At traditional pediatric well checks, clinicians use their training in childhood development to determine if child’s growth is on the expected continuum and they are meeting age specific milestones such as taking first steps, or saying first words. When a child fails to meet these milestones within a specific time frame, the child is often labeled developmentally delayed.

The treatment in primary care for a developmentally delayed child is typically to wait and see if they “catch up” at their next wellness visit, or to initiate referrals to occupational, speech, and physical therapies. If the delay persists, the next step may be a referral to a neurologist or a geneticist. When these specialty areas have been investigated and medical causes contributing to the delay are dismissed, the waiting can often start again. If the child’s delay persists, the diagnosis of autism or other neurological disorder will likely be a future discussion.

Early intervention in childhood developmental delays is critical in helping the child realize their best outcomes. We feel that this vulnerable and crucial window in the developing child needs prompt treatment and attention. The difference we see through our functional medical lens is that treatment needs to include a biomedical focus, in addition to the typical mainstream modalities of treatment. Our biomedical analysis includes a systematic approach to evaluating the microbiome, methylation, nutrition, environment, and toxicity.

The connection between food and many childhood ailments and delays often goes overlooked. We look for both deficiencies and irritants in children’s diets. For example, some children with speech delays may lack essential fatty acids. For others, speech delays can be caused in part by foods the child’s body isn’t tolerating well and by identifying and removing the food irritant, speech improves. Toxicity exists within children at various levels and from various environmental exposures. Be it mold, lead, heavy metals, or something else, if your child’s symptoms point to toxicity we will use specialized testing to identify what’s happening and put a plan in place to heal your child.

A parent’s intuition is the best indicator of a child not reaching full developmental potential. If something seems not quite right, the most important thing you can do is to act quickly requesting further evaluation. We will do a comprehensive evaluation taking into consideration everything from muscle tone, toe walking and “W” sitting positions to repetitive, self-injurious or sensory-seeking behaviors to indicators of various visual, auditory and sensory processing dysfunctions. There is no downside of a vigilant approach to understanding why your child is not meeting developmental milestones or has behaviors different from peer groups.