Developmental Delay

This information is useful for children
a young child grins in front of his wooden block tower
Why Yale Medicine?
  • Arnold Gesell, MD, PhD, the first director of the Child Study Center, is widely recognized as one of the first to focus on the study of normal child development.
  • We provide thorough assessments to clarify the problem and identify what support a child needs to fulfill potential.​
  • We work with your child through one-on-one diagnostic play sessions and use evidence-based measurement tools to gather valuable insight.

Most children move fairly smoothly through the predictable phases of child development—but some experience difficulties. A baby may have a birth defect that interferes with his development, causing him to progress in fits and starts, meeting some milestones on time and others much later. Some children develop normally for months or even years but then falter, with development slowing down, stopping, and sometimes even going backward. 

These are all examples of what’s called “developmental delay.” Whatever the specifics of an individual case, Yale Medicine’s Child Study Center provides a comprehensive assessment that can clarify the problem and identify what support a child needs to help him fulfill his potential.

Prematurity, medical problems (ranging from stroke to chronic ear infection), lead poisoning and trauma all have the potential to cause developmental delay but sometimes the cause is unknown. Ann L. Close, PhD, a Yale Medicine Child Study Center clinical psychologist and associate director of the Infancy & Early Childhood Program, specializes in the assessment and treatment of children under 5. She urges all parents concerned about a child’s development to discuss it with their pediatrician. 

“Parents know their children best and are usually the first to notice or be worried about the rate of a child’s development,” she says. A pediatrician can perform some basic, in-office screening tests that can help to determine whether it’s okay to give the child a bit more time to catch up or if it might be wise to schedule an assessment.

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.