What causes developmental problems?

Many developmental problems remain idiopathic—that is, they do not yet have a known cause. Causes can involve a number of body systems, but most are neurological impairments. Heredity is a factor in some disorders, and there are a few other identified causes. External or environmental causes of developmental problems Developmental problems may be caused by external factors including: Birth trauma or distress, low birth weight, premature birth Drugs such as cancer or leukemia treatments in children Injury or harm in utero or after birth Maternal drug use or excessive alcohol consumption Poor nutrition Toxin exposure during pregnancy Neurologic causes of developmental problems Developmental problems can also be caused by disorders that cause damage to the nervous system including: Central nervous system infections Chronic medical illnesses (asthma, diabetes, seizures) Neurobiologic aberrations in brain structure or function Neurologic hearing loss or auditory processing disorders Premature birth Other causes of developmental problems Other causes of developmental problems include: Autism Cerebral palsy (disorder of the brain and nervous system function)