Symptoms and Signs of Cognitive Deficits

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Cognitive Deficits

Cognitive deficits (intellectual disability) describe significant limitations in a person’s ability to learn and function normally. These usually begin in childhood and can range from mild to severe. In some cases children with attention deficits, learning disabilities, communication disorders, or pervasive developmental disorders may be thought to have intellectual disability. Causes of cognitive deficits may include genetic abnormalities (birth defects), fetal malnutrition, premature birth, trauma, suffocation, infections, toxic ingestions, brain damage, central nervous system tumors or cancer, degenerative disorders, and environmental influences.

Signs and symptoms of cognitive deficits that parents may notice may include global developmental delay in early childhood (delays in all areas of development, including language, walking, self-care skills, and/or imitative play), a delay noticed in a child after a younger sibling catches up developmentally to the child with the developmental delay, behavioral issues (such as difficulty toilet training), or difficulties in school.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.