Children who grow up in environmental circumstances of social and economic disadvantage are more likely to have developmental disabilities.
Maternal Risk Factors:
- Low socioeconomic status
- Mental illness
- Substance abus
- Living in communities where environmental hazards are plentiful and resources are limited
Prenatal & Perinatal Risk Factors:
- Preterm birth
- Low birth weight
- Central nervous system abnormalities
- Prolonged hospitalizations that can drain family resources and interfere with parent-infant bonding
Children in Poverty: Complex and Far-Reaching Risk Factors
For many children, the environmental risks are compounded during their early years. Poverty remains one of the most complex and far-reaching risk factors, because it affects so many aspects of the life of a child.
In 2006, approximately 1 in 5 US children younger than 6 years and 16% of children ages 6 to 17 years lived in poverty. The rate for children of all ages living in single female-headed families was 42%. During that same year, approximately 17% of children (12.6 million) lived in households with food insecurity. Children who were impoverished were also more likely to have a blood lead level of 10 μg/dL or greater. Children living in poverty are 1.7 times more likely to be born at a low birth weight.
Cycle of Disadvantage: Difficult to Escape
Too often, children and their families are trapped in a cycle of disadvantage and disability that is difficult to escape unless interrupted by outside social forces or the extraordinary efforts of individuals and families.