Developmental disabilities are defined in terms of what an individual can or cannot do rather than in terms of a clinical diagnosis. They affect the typical processes in a child's growth, particularly the maturation of the central nervous system. For this reason, early identification is important. The potential exists for an improved outcome if children are provided with education and habilitation. Prenatal diagnostic techniques may be appropriate for at-risk pregnancies. If a fetus is known to be affected, the physician is better able to plan the delivery and for special care during the newborn period.
Newborn screening is another way in which to identify conditions that can result in developmental disabilities if untreated. The Apgar test is ad-
DSM-IV-TR Criteria for Pervasive Developmental Disorders
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