Global Developmental Delay or GDD is a familiar term among urban people nowadays. Despite the challenges of infertility or complications during labour, some parents find their little ones not growing up at a pace that is fixed as normal. Are you unable to see your child not crawling or walking in the anticipated time or are they missing a milestone? What is the truth behind GDD? Does Ayurveda have any role in such cases? Let us have a look in detail.
GDD is a general term used to denote many disease conditions in which children are considerably delayed in their physical, verbal and cognitive development. It should be well significant like missing one or more milestones, defective motor skills, speech, cognitive skills with delayed social & emotional development. The term GDD is applicable when the baby takes more time to reach certain milestones in development than other babies of the same age. It can be presented in the process of walking, talking, movement skills, or interactive skills. Multiple developmental areas will be delayed in a child with GDD and typically the child will be presented as younger or backwards physically or in skills when compared with the peer group. Up to the age of 5 years, it is defined as when presented with a delay of 6 months or more and with two or more developmental areas like gross or fine motor, speech or language, social or personal interaction and daily activities.
In some mild cases, some kids can catch up or outgrow from developmental delays. But long-term developmental delays are also possible and they are called developmental disabilities. Many disorders are coming in this criterion including Cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome and ASD. In such cases, GDD can not be cured but with appropriate educational, social, emotional and psychological intervention, the quality of life can be improved. Also, physical therapy, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy play a vital role in helping such children improve themselves along with special education.
Ayurveda advises parents should do a physical and emotional cleaning by Ayurveda Panchakarma therapies before conception. It also explains the diet and gestures to be followed by the couple to beget a healthy baby. Prevention is the best cure in most GDD cases. Yet, Ayurveda says that the physician should take up every case with a vision to lessen the pain & misery of the suffering. The physician knows that he is not the master of life but by following the Ayurveda regimen, he can help the patient improve his physical and emotional strength.
The term development simply means the maturation of functions. It refers to the achievement of a range of skills needed for the proper functioning of the human body completely. It starts inside the womb as a small group of cells and continues even after birth. Any interference at any stage of development may lead to developmental delay. Ayurveda explains the importance of the quality of parental cells, mother’s reproductive organs, age of parents, and nutrition in the proper development of a baby. Any defect or abnormality during labour like anoxia or brain injury of the baby can cause developmental issues. Though the foetus completely depends upon the mother for nourishment, it develops Agni (digestive fire) in the later stages of pregnancy which starts to function after birth. Any impairment in this Agni can lead to developmental disorders. This is why Agni is given prime importance while treating GDD. In most cases, the first line of treatment is to enhance or regulate Agni and to ensure proper nourishment & nutrition.
In most cases, the digestive fire will be low due to vitiated Kapha. This may lead to an undernourished child, even though the child is given nutritious food. Due to defective absorption & assimilation, many toxic waste metabolites are formed in the body termed as Aama in Ayurveda. The presence of this Aama again hampers the digestive fire and it becomes a cyclic process. Interference of this process is done with medicines like decoction, tablets or herbal powders. It is decided considering many factors including the body constitution of the child. So, the medicine is prescribed in a customised approach. While removing Aama and prevention of further Aama formation are the initial targets of treatment, it is also important to strengthen the body parts. This is done by alternate application of drying up (rukshana) and oleation (snehana) therapies in a single child. For example. Strengthening oil massage is done only after 3 days of herbal powder massage to remove bocks of Aama in the body channels. Switching of these therapies also enhance some areas in the brain and help in the process of healing.
Internal medicines to enhance the digestive power are given in the first stage. After the Agni is normalised, strengthening formulations and specific medicines for each disease can be administered with close monitoring. Like in any other Ayurvedic treatment, the prescription is derived in a customised approach and no two kids are the same. Even the medicines will be different for the same child in two different seasons. So, it is better to avoid OTC medications and neighbourhood quacks’ advice.
Procedure based therapies are done as per the strength of the child, without harming his innate strength. Switching between contradictory treatments open up a new way of development and the child responds well in most cases. While the first three days of treatment remove the blocks in body channels, the next three days are to fill those channels with strengthening therapies with medicated oils. It needs expert supervision and close monitoring in every case.
As development is a whole process including the child’s body and mind, treatment should be multidimensional. We, at Jeevaneeyam, incorporate other needed therapies like physical therapy, CBT, speech therapy, occupational therapy and counselling with Ayurveda medicines and treatment. Each child should meet the doctor for a detailed consultation and the medicines, treatments and therapies are decided according to the individual need.
It is a medical condition where significant delay is observed in the physical and cognitive development of children.
It is diagnosed by a paediatric specialist after certain examinations in children under five years
There is no permanent cure for GDD. But with proper intervention, quality of life can be improved in such children.
The term mental retardation was previously used in place of GDD. Now GDD is used to denote a wide range of serious intellectual issues with delayed development.
While a single cause for GDD is not available in many cases, both genetic and environmental factors seem to play roles in GDD like premature birth.