Child development refers to the “sequence of physical, language, thought and emotional changes that occur in a child from birth to the beginning of adulthood.” There are a wide variety of factors, both environmental and biological, that can influence child development. These factors can affect a child in positive ways, enhancing a child’s development and in negative ways that can compromise developmental outcomes. Eight of the major biological factors affecting the growth and development of children include the following, in no sequential order:
- Heredity/ genes: Heredity is the biological process of the passing on of traits from parents to their offspring. It strongly influences many aspects of the physical appearances of children (e.g., height, weight, body structure, eye color, hair texture, etc.) and can determine other features such as innate intelligence and aptitude skills. Many diseases (e.g., heart problems, diabetes, obesity, blood pressure abnormalities, etc.) can also transmit through genes, thereby adversely influencing child development.
- Gender: Males and females share most of the same set of genes, as of the 23 pairs of chromosomes possessed by most people, the first 22 pairs are autosomes, meaning they are the same in boys and girls. The 23rd pair of chromosomes is what determines the gender of an individual. Females have two X chromosomes, while males typically have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome. Hence, gender differences at the biological level are found on the Y chromosome. Research indicates that there are several ways that gender can influence development.
- Hormones: Different glands located in specific parts of the body secrete hormones that control body functions. Typical physical growth and development in children relies on timely functioning and proper secretion of these hormones. Imbalances in the functioning of hormone-secreting glands may result in growth defects, obesity, behavioral problems, and other diseases.
- Prenatal factors: Illness, injury, or harmful events during the prenatal or the perinatal stage can affect linguistic development.
- Gene-environment interaction: The environment that a child is exposed to, even in the uterus of the mother, will impact the genes expressed.
- Brain chemistry: healthy brain development depends on constant and varied exposure to responsive, nurturing, positive experiences.
- Delivery mode: Certain research has found that the way a child is born can influence gross motor development, as “children born by vaginal delivery showed higher scores than children born via C-section” in total gross motor skills.
- Nutrition: Proper nutrition is a vital factor in a child’s overall development. A balanced diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats is fundamental to the development of a child’s brain and body. Deficiencies in essential nutrients may lead to restricted growth and impede child development.
Further Information and Support
For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.