Growth and Development: Factors Affecting Growth and Development (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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Factors Affecting Growth and Development


  • Heredity or genetics is found to influence the development of children՚s intellectual potential, height, weight and general physical appearance. The genetic makeup inherited from parents seems to be tied to maturation of the body and the brain which influences growth and developmental milestones.
  • After conception, nothing can be done to add to or subtract from the child՚s hereditary endowment. These characteristics of the child are also determined at the time of fertilization. At the time of conception, every child receives 46 chromosomes, of which 23 are contributed by the mother and 23, by the father. The X chromosomes passed on by the father will determine the sex of the child.
  • To an extent, susceptibility to certain diseases (such as color blindness, Down՚s Syndrome, asthma, diabetes) also depends on heredity. In addition to that, certain personality characteristics such as temperament may also be affected by genetic factors.
  • However, genetic pre-dispositions can be overridden by environmental influences. One can create or provide an environment that can help reduce the impact of heredity.

Environmental Factors

  • Many environmental factors such as mother՚s state of health, age, disease and emotional states and exposure of the unborn baby to environmental pollution, to X-rays and drugs affect the child. Certain contextual factors such as family, gender, culture and society at large also influence children՚s development.
  • If a mother has diseases or is nutritionally weak, then the child born to her may also be affected by this. Creating a conducive environment may not totally help the child overcome the constraints set by heredity, but it can help reduce their effect.

Nutrition, Health and Hygiene Needs of a Child and the Mother

Nutrition, Health and Hygiene
  • The foundations for growth and healthy development are laid from the mother՚s womb. Maternal health is an important factor which affects the growth and development of a child. A fetus gets nourishment from the mother՚s diet. Therefore, it is very important that during pregnancy, the mother takes a balanced diet which is rich in all necessary nutrients.
  • Moreover, antibodies produced by the mother to combat infectious diseases are transmitted to the fetus, usually producing immunity at birth and for some months thereafter. The placenta also acts as a barrier against some harmful agents, including viruses, microorganisms and various chemicals.
  • Thus, it is important to give both the mother and the child proper and timely immunization and other health checkups to prevent various diseases. Among young teenagers, pregnancy tends to inhibit the mother՚s as well as the child՚s growth.
  • Young mothers are at high risk of complications during pregnancy. Likewise, after the age of 35, hormonal activity gradually decreases and may lead to complications. Women over the age of 40 run a risk of having children with chromosomal abnormality.

Emotional State of Mother

  • Emotions like rage, fear and anxiety bring the mother՚s nervous system into action and thereby, certain chemicals are released into the bloodstream of the mother. These substances are transmitted to the fetus. Prolonged emotional stress during pregnancy may have lasting consequences on the child.
  • Infants born to upset, unhappy mothers are more likely to be premature or have low birth weights, be hyperactive and irritable; and may manifest difficulties such as irregular eating, excessive bowel movements, gas, sleep disturbances and excessive crying.

Exposure to X-Rays

During pregnancy, one needs to avoid unnecessary exposure to X-rays unless the doctor advises it. Repeated exposures to radiation during early conception period may have harmful effects on the physical and mental development of the fetus.

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