Developmental Delays

What Are Developmental Delays?

Does your child have developmental delays? Typical delays are:

  • Not rolling over on time
  • Not sitting up unsupported on time
  • Not crawling on time
  • Not walking on time
  • Speech and language delays
  • Skipping a phase (such as not crawling)
  • Never “creeping” (cross-crawling, when a baby crawls on all fours)
  • Unusual types of crawling, such as:
    • “Army” crawling with the belly on the ground for most or all of the crawling phase. This is an indication of poor muscle tone and core strength.
    • Dragging a leg behind when crawling
    • “Butt scooting”
  • Slouched posture when sitting. Babies who have not received enough neurodevelopmental movements to support proper posture, structural alignment and core strength will slouch when seated.
  • “W” sitting: Sitting in the shape of a W with knees on the floor and feet behind them out to the sides. This is an indication of poor core strength.

Not every child arrives at these developmental milestones at the same time, but if your child is struggling or just not responding, what does this mean?

It means that birth trauma and/or neurological toxins, especially heavy metals, may have disrupted your child’s neurological, sensory, immune and nervous systems while in development.

Physically based symptoms often associated with the gastrointestinal-microbiome system, known as the gut/brain axis, are also connected to developmental delays.

Seeking a multi-faceted approach, the earlier the better, may be the most effective solution.

What Your Doctor May Tell You About Developmental Delays

Developmental delays may be difficult to diagnose, especially early on.

Doctors typically believe that children develop at their own pace, so what is considered normal is a wide range.

Your doctor may ask you questions as well as talk and play with your child.

Your doctor may also use a developmental screening process to see if your child is learning basic skills and has reached their developmental milestones in language or speech, vision, movement and motor skills, social and emotional skills, and thinking and cognitive skills.

Your doctor may tell you that there are no blood tests specific to developmental delays.

However, the screening test may indicate delays, and your doctor may refer your child to a developmental pediatrician, developmental psychologist or a pediatric neurologist for a developmental evaluation.

Your child’s doctor may also recommend a physical therapist, occupational therapist, audiologist or a speech and language pathologist in certain cases where needed.

If the delay is in all areas of development, it is called Global Developmental Delay.

Sometimes, doctors may recommend a community early-intervention program and if delays are determined, early intervention services and/or a treatment plan may be recommended.

Your doctor may tell you that your child will always be a slow learner and that their speech, coordination and behavioral problems are unlikely to change.

Your doctor may suggest that your child needs to be medicated especially if there are behavioral issues at school and your child is unable to sit for an expected period.

Major Risk Factors for Developmental Delays

Developmental delays may not always occur due to genetic abnormalities; many times, birth complications and toxin exposure may cause neurological damage that can lead to developmental delays.

Risk factors include:

  • APGAR score less than 7 within 5 minutes of birth
  • Birth trauma
  • Fetal monitor used during labor
  • Environmental exposures after birth such as lead, mercury, aluminum or other heavy metals, which can cause neurological damage
  • Not enough “tummy time”
  • Sleeping on the back instead of the tummy. Back sleeping contributes to an “upside down” neurological system as well as poor core strength.
  • Not enough opportunity for gross-motor movement. This typically happens with babies who are constantly in car seats, strollers or toys that restrict their movement.
  • Concussion, head injury or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Stroke
  • Anesthesia
  • Genetic or chromosomal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, etc.
  • Tobacco, alcohol and drug use during pregnancy
  • Medical history factors such as anemia, poor nutrition, infections, diabetes and hypertension
  • Complications and/or interventions during labor and delivery
  • Mother under the age of 18 at delivery
  • Gestational age less than 37 weeks (premature birth)
  • Birth weight under 5 ½ lbs.
  • Multiple births: Twins, triplets, quadruplets
  • Congenital abnormality
  • Newborn medical condition such as infections
  • Lack of care
  • Severe poverty
  • Failure to thrive

CDC developmental milestone charts:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has developed charts that show which developmental milestones a child should be achieving by certain ages:

If your child isn’t progressing normally or shows regression in developmental milestones, it is critical that you seek early intervention as soon as possible.

Most states have early-intervention programs (Birth to Three, Zero to Three, etc.) that can test your child in more detail than your child’s pediatrician typically would.

Even if your pediatrician doesn’t suspect a delay, you know your child best; ask, repeatedly if necessary, your pediatrician for a referral for your child to have an early-intervention program evaluation.

If your child qualifies for early intervention, these state-funded programs will provide services to your child at no cost to you.

Developmental Disorders Related to Developmental Delays

If your child has a developmental delay, there’s a good chance that he or she may develop a neurodevelopmental disorder such as:

Parents of children with these conditions almost universally report that their child was developmentally delayed.

In addition, if your child has any of the following disorders, there’s a good chance that he or she may have experienced developmental delays.

Regression of milestones:

Research has shown that 88% of children with autism regressed into autism, meaning they weren’t born with it.

Anecdotally, we know of many children who also regressed into ADD/ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder, as well as of those who suddenly developed seizures, lost muscle tone, developed failure to thrive when they were progressing normally or whose head-circumference percentiles suddenly grew.

Regression sometimes occurs within a few days of trauma or toxin exposure, but in many cases, it is spread out over a period of time.

If your child has slowed down developmentally, such as now only speaking a few words when they had been speaking more words or has a loss of language or loss of gross motor skills, stop and think.

If you’re a busy caregiver, you may not immediately notice regression until you go back and think about it, comparing your child to old photos, milestone charts and doctor’s reports.

One of the best indicators of neurological damage is to look at your child’s eyes, which is what a doctor or neurologist will do if they suspect neurological injury.

Are your child’s teaming (both looking in the same direction) or is one eye now slightly turned in a different direction than the other (strabismus)?

Has your child’s smile suddenly become crooked, with one side up and the other down?

If you answered yes to either of these two questions, your child may have experienced neurological injury, which a neurologist or chiropractic neurologist could help you confirm.

If regression has occurred, think about what happened in the time period preceding the regression: Was there a head injury, toxin exposure, infection, surgery or medical intervention, even a routine one, that occurred?

It may take you days, weeks, months or even years for you to pinpoint the likely cause or causes of your child’s regression.

Understanding the root causes can help your practitioners know what to do to help your child achieve optimal health and regain lost language and motor skills.

Typically, there is no one single cause that causes regression; instead, regression usually occurs after a “perfect storm” of events in which the total load of stressors has built up to the point that one last stressor is the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”.

Another Way to Think About Developmental Delays

Children with developmental delays almost always have retained primitive reflexes.

These reflexes are inhibited during normal infant development, but in developmentally delayed children, they are retained.

This is an indication and a giant red flag that your child’s brain and central nervous systems are not developing properly, usually due to birth trauma and/or toxins, usually heavy metals, that cause neurological damage.

These children will often have:

Children with developmental delays typically may also have issues such as:

Early intervention is your child’s best ally: the earlier the better, and the greater the chances are of improved outcomes or even recovery.

Nutritional deficiencies:

Children with developmental delays often have specific deficiencies and imbalances that require an individualized therapeutic and nutritional protocol.

Medication is only a band aid that masks symptoms. Don’t let your school or healthcare practitioner bully you into giving your child medication. There are better, safer ways to address symptoms.

If you are thinking of medicating your child, STOP… think again. Your child may have underlying issues that can be discovered and addressed.

When these root issues, such as nutritional deficiencies, are addressed, your child’s symptoms may reverse.

In addition, medications often exacerbate nutritional deficiencies.

Laboratory testing:

While lab tests cannot identify developmental delays, they can pinpoint potential root causes of your child’s delays.

Laboratory testing may include blood, urine, stool or saliva with the intent on:

  • Correcting underlying deficiencies and dysfunctions
  • Restoring body and brain functioning
  • Improving problematic behavioral or developmental symptoms

so that the child may attain their greatest potential and have the best quality of life possible.

Important testing of various contributing factors include:

Developmental Delays Healing Checklist

Heal the Gut

The first step is to heal the gut – the gastrointestinal tract and its microbiome – which is the hub of the good bacteria (probiotics) in the body.

By healing the gut, the immune system can be improved because 70% of the immune system is found in the gut.

Mothers who use preconception antibiotics may have babies with serious gut issues, which can lead to behavioral problems and developmental delays.

A baby’s microbiome can be disrupted by a mother’s poor diet, antibiotics, NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and usage of birth control pills because mothers transfers their poor microbiome to their baby.

Antibiotics kill bad bacteria but also good bacteria (probiotics) as well as white blood cells, which protect the immune system, in the process.

Antibiotics don’t discriminate, causing the intestinal flora and good bacteria to be destroyed, leaving the immune system compromised and unable to protect the body from future infection.

Constant usage of NSAIDs, which are common anti-inflammatories such as Motrin, Tylenol and ibuprofen, in either the pregnant mother or child can result in leaky gut syndrome and/or SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Organism), which can lead to autoimmunity.

Leaky gut and SIBO can lead to an inability to absorb nutrients and minerals needed for the brain and the body.

If the gastrointestinal tract and the microbiome have too many pathogenic viruses, bacteria, yeast and/or parasites, then the vagus nerve may transport these pathogens to the brain, causing the brain to have imbalances in the neurotransmitters and delays in the child’s development.

A compromised immune system before three years of age can cause developmental regression.

Chronic infections, such as Lyme disease, viruses, pathogenic bacteria and mold, compromise the immune system, causing excessive inflammation, disrupting development and affecting the brain and a child’s development.

Make Lifestyle Changes

  • Get 10 hours of sleep per night (or more if your child is under 10)
  • Get outside every day
  • Get an hour of exercise or movement per day
  • Sync circadian rhythm by getting up when the sun does and going to bed after it sets
  • Limit screen time as much as possible
  • Use blue-blocking lightbulbs and glasses at night, especially when looking at screens
  • Put bare feet in wet ground when possible
  • Drink half body weight in ounces of water

Eat a Clean Diet

Use Only High-Quality Fats

  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil (unheated)
  • Avocados
  • Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT) oil
  • Grass-fed ghee
  • Duck fat
  • Grass-fed beef tallow
  • Cod liver oil (unheated)
  • Walnut oil (unheated)

Remove Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats

  • Canola
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Safflower
  • Sunflower
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oils (Crisco, etc.)
  • Margarine

Include High-Quality Protein with Every Meal

  • Pasture-raised eggs, chicken and other fowl
  • Grass-fed beef, lamb and other red meats
  • Wild-caught fish
  • Legumes
  • Nuts

Eliminate High-Glutamate Foods

These foods and ingredients can exacerbate neurological symptoms because of the excitoxicity they cause in the brain. These are some of the most-common, high-glutamate foods to remove:

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Yeast extract
  • Gelatin
  • Barley malt
  • Bouillon
  • Natural flavors
  • Artificial flavors
  • Soy sauce
  • Corn starch
  • Others

Add Fermented Foods and Probiotics

These will keep the gastrointestinal system and microbiome healthy and strong which in turn will keep the immune system strong.

  • Eat kefir yogurts, if dairy is tolerated
  • Eat fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kim chi
  • Eat umeboshi plums, which are very alkalizing
  • Eat miso soup, if soy is tolerated
  • Take a quality probiotic, such as VSL #3, Gut Pro, Dr. Ohirra’s Live Cultured Probiotics, Garden of Life, Klaire Labs. Work with your practitioner for a more targeted probiotic.

Optimize Blood Sugar

Blood sugar that is too high can lead to excess inflammation and hormonal imbalances.

Blood sugar that is too low can lead to attention and behavioral problems.

We recommend keeping blood sugar optimized so that it's neither too low nor too high.

Do an Elimination Diet

Children with chronic health conditions often have hidden food sensitivities and intolerances that exacerbate their symptoms. With an elimination diet, remove potentially inflammatory foods such as:

  • Casein
  • Gluten
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Nuts
  • Peanuts

Clean up Your Environment

  • Identify and remove possible environmental triggers, such as mold, dust, pet dander, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs)
  • Identify and remove possible toxic exposures in the home from purchased products, such as detergents, soaps, lotions, and other cleaning and personal care products
  • Remove animals (both live and stuffed!)
  • Remove carpets
  • Use non-toxic cleaners
  • Use non-toxic building materials

Lower Stress Levels

Viruses, bacteria and other pathogens become more active when the body is in a state of stress.

By teaching your child ways to self-regulate with practices such as prayer, reiki, meditation, yoga, qi gong, tai chi and the Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping), they can become good advocates for themselves and become active participants in the recovery process.

Practitioners of techniques such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Retraining) and jin shin jyutsu can lower stress levels for your child, as well.

See a Homeopath, Naturopath or Homotoxicologist

These practitioners can diagnose and treat gastrointestinal disorders naturally so that the child’s immune, sensory, neurological and nervous systems develop without being compromised.

Ask Your Practitioner to Run Some Laboratory Tests

  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) for possible food sensitivities and allergies
  • Nutritional deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin D
  • NutrEval by Genova Diagnostics Labs for malabsorption, gut dysbiosis, cellular energy, mitochondrial metabolism, neurotransmitter metabolism, vitamin deficiencies, toxin exposure and detoxification need
  • Organic Acid Test (OAT) for yeast overgrowth, other microbial infections and oxalates
  • Inflammation markers such as C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
  • Fasting blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA)

Have Your Child Tested for PANS/PANDAS

Pathogenic infections and environmental offenders can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause neurological symptoms known collectively as PANS/PANDAS. However, not many practitioners know how to test for and treat these conditions. Common tests are:

  • Serum Anti-Streptolysin O (ASO) titer
  • Serum Anti-Streptococcal DNase B (ASDB) titer
  • Cunningham panel
  • Lyme disease and Lyme co-infections
  • Specific viruses, especially herpetic viruses
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection
  • Heavy metals and other toxins
  • Mold

Use Digestive Aids with your Practitioner's Guidance

  • Betaine hydrochloric acid
  • Digestive enzymes with DPP-IV for gluten and casein intolerances
  • Proteolytic enzymes
  • BiCarb
  • Bromelain
  • Papaya

Use Supplements with Your Practitioner's Guidance

Always work with your practitioner to determine the brand, type and dosage of supplements. Common supplements include the following:

  • Cod liver oil
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin D3
  • Methylated B complex vitamins
  • GABA, especially PharmaGABA
  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
  • Magnesium, zinc, selenium, iodine and other minerals
  • Others

Help Your Child Detoxify

  • Make sure your child is pooping every day. Learn more about how to clear up constipation and diarrhea.
  • Have your child exercise or move every day. Sweating carries toxins out of the body.
  • See a homotoxicologist, naturopath or homeopath for drainage remedies and detoxification aids.
  • Optimize blood sugar to allow the liver to spend more time detoxing rather than processing sugar.
  • Ionic foot baths can help detox unwanted pathogens and are easy to do with children.
  • Infared saunas can detox heavy metals through the skin by sweating. However, this form of detoxification may not be suitable for young children who lack the ability to sweat.
  • Epsom salt baths add sulfur transdermally to help with detox.

Integrate Retained Primitive Reflexes

Most, if not all, children with neurodevelopmental disorders including learning disabilities, have retained primitive reflexes.

Find a therapist that is trained in integrating primitive reflexes, which can cause imbalances in the way your child's brain performs.

See a Chiropractic Neurologist

Chiropractic neurology is patient focused and utilizes the latest assessment techniques to create an individualized protocol to rehabilitate the central nervous system and develop neuroplasticity (changes in the brain) when addressing neurological conditions.

Children with developmental delays, cognitive issues and deficits have improper communication between the right and left sides of the brain.

See a Behavioral/Developmental Optometrist

A developmental optometrist can check for convergence and tracking problems with your child's vision. He or she can correct these issues with vision therapy, lens and prisms. Doing so can improve hand-eye coordination and school performance.

See a Craniosacral Practitioner

Craniosacral therapy can reestablish central nervous system functioning. These practitioners use approaches rich in vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile input and may also do oral motor therapy.

See a Neurofeedback Practitioner

Neurofeedback is approved as a level-one intervention by the American Academy of Pediatrics for ADD and ADHD, which are learning disabilities.

Even if your child doesn't have ADD or ADHD, they may still benefit from neurofeedback.

Find a practitioner that can perform a QEEG (quantitative electroencephalograph) brain map first so you can understand how your child's brain works.

See a Sensory-Integration Occupational Therapist

These occupational therapists address a variety of sensory issues with a child using hands-on equipment. This type of therapy calms down the nervous system to help integrate the senses and retained reflexes.

See a Chiropractor

A chiropractor can perform spinal cord adjustments, which can improve communication in the nervous system.

See an Auditory Therapist

Many children with learning disabilities have auditory processing problems that may be causing problems with focus and concentration.

An auditory therapist can devise a listening program that is specific to your child's needs. These programs can retrain the brain, calm down the nervous system and reduce sound sensitivities.

Find a Brain Gym Practitioner

A Brain Gym practitioner can have your child do exercises for sensorimotor coordination, self-calming and self-management.

Work with a Health Coach

Our Epidemic Answers health coaches are trained to understand the root causes of your child's chronic health condition.

They provide hands-on helping with the practical matters of healing such as cooking healthy foods, removing toxins from the household and helping you work more efficiently with your practitioner.

See an Acupuncturist

Acupuncture can help lower stress and anxiety associated with sensory processing. It can also help with blood-sugar and hormonal regulation.

See a NAET or BioSET Practitioner

Children with chronic health conditions typically also have food allergies and/or food sensitivities and intolerances.

NAET (Namudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique) and BioSET are two non-invasive methods of allergy elimination.

Use Sensory Therapies and Tools

Still Looking for Answers?

Visit the Epidemic Answers Practitioner Directory to find a practitioner near you.

Join us inside our online membership community for parents, Healing Together, where you’ll find even more healing resources, expert guidance, and a community to support you every step of your child’s healing journey.

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