What is cognitive impairment?
Cognitive impairment, also referred to as intellectual disability, describes the condition of a child whose intellectual functioning level and adaptive skills are significantly below the average for a child of his chronological age. It is the most common developmental disorder, occurring in approximately 12 of every 1000 children.(1) Varying levels of developmental delays may be identified in a child’s social skills, emotional development, communication capabilities, physical function, and academic skill sets.(2)
The Center for Disease Control defines cognitive impairment among 8-year-old children by a score of 70 or below on an test of intellectual capability, more commonly known as an IQ test.(1) Levels of cognitive impairment severity are defined by specific IQ ranges. (2) Cognitive impairment can be caused by a number of factors. Many instances of cognitive impairment are the result of genetic or chromosomal disorders. Cognitive impairment can also be attributed to injuries or illnesses that occur during pregnancy or early infancy. Extreme malnutrition, inadequate medical care, and exposure to environmental toxins can lead to cognitive impairments as well.(2) With many possible causes, it is often difficult to cite a specific single cause of a cognitive impairment in a child.
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