Biological Factors Affecting Child Development

A number of factors affect the growth and development of children. Understanding how these factors interplay is essential in helping our babies reach their maximum potential. In this article, you’d find all you need to know about the biological factors affecting child development. In addition, there’s a video at the bottom of the page that contains all the milestones to expect in the first five years of your baby’s life.

What Is Biological Development?

In plain terms, biological development refers to the pattern of physical, mental, and emotional changes that your child goes through at different stages of his/her life.

As you’d expect, biological development begins during pregnancy and continues throughout childhood, to adolescence and finally, adulthood. Furthermore, biological development is greatly influenced by certain factors that would be explained extensively in this article.

Examples of Biological Factors

The major examples of biological factors affecting child development include:

  • Genes
  • Gender
  • Maternal influence
  • Hormonal influence

What biological factors affect my child’s development?

Genetic Influences on Child Development

This is the transmission of characteristics from parents to their offspring through their genes. Genes contain all the settings (instructions) for features that would eventually appear in the child. It ranges from physical features like height, hair colour and fat distribution to risk factors for diseases like diabetes and hypertension. Careful nurturing and environmental factors may help develop or suppress particular characteristics that are in the genes.

You can read another article that talks about when babies can start sleeping on their stomach

Gender Influence on Child Development

The gender of the child also affects the child’s development. Studies have shown that male foetuses tend to be more fragile than female foetuses and more susceptible to trauma. Also, girls tend to reach adolescence faster than boys while boys are stronger and taller than girls.

Girls reach adolescence earlier than boys, while boys are taller and stronger

Mother’s state of health

Perhaps the single most important factor affecting child development during pregnancy. The importance of the mother’s state of physical and mental health cannot be underestimated. Strong, healthy mothers give birth to strong, healthy babies. For example, a mother who does not take folate during pregnancy puts her baby at risk of neural tube defects . A mother who drinks alcohol while pregnant puts her baby at risk of a condition called Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.

In another instance, a mother who does not consume the right nutrients before conception or during pregnancy reduces the nutrients reaching her child’s body via breast milk. Interestingly, Mothers suffering from postpartum depression engage less with their babies, this affects cognitive and behavioural development in their children.

Hormonal Influence on Child Development

Hormones are chemicals produced by different organs/glands in the body to perform different functions. Normal cyclic production of these hormones ensure that the body goes through its normal phases of development.  For example, a hormone produced in the pituitary gland, located in the brain, is responsible for height while hormones produced in the testes/eggs affect sexual maturation.

Although biological factors may be beyond our control, awareness of them goes a long way in affecting how we plan and live our daily lives.