As the studies summarized above reflect, there has been considerable progress made toward identifying and quantifying some of the many variables that are known to place infants and children at risk for learning and other related disabilities. Of specific relevance to this chapter are the improvements that have been made in the conceptualization and measurement of reproductive and environmental/caretaking variables. Both of these classes of variables are well known to influence learning disabilities. However, additional research is now needed to firmly establish the specific nature of the influence of these variables. First, it appears that the influence of reproductive and environmental/caretaking variables is different at different age points. However, because not all longitudinal studies include measures of both reproductive and environmental/caretaking variables, it is difficult to adequately evaluate their influence on outcome measures at different ages. With more consistent use of these measures across studies and age groups it will be possible to make the needed comparisons. Second, there needs to be a closer examination across studies that have used similar samples and designs but that report conflicting findings concerning the influence of reproductive and environmental/caretaking variables. The critical differences between these studies need to be identified. For example, it appears that some studies reporting findings of no effects of reproductive measures on developmental outcome are using perinatal risk scales that are different from these used by studies that report reproductive effects. Clearly, it is critical to use perinatal risk scales that are appropriate for the characteristics of the study sample, the study design, and statistical analyses. Beyond these criteria, the selected scales need to have established validity with respect to the measurement questions under study. Overall, consideration needs to be given to the selection of valid and reliable measures of both reproductive and environmental/caretaking variables. Finally, reproductive and environmental/caretaking variables need to be included more consistently in studies as predictors of learning developmental disabilities and not just for the purpose of subject classification and description. By using these variables as predictors in statistical analyses, it will be possible to determine if these variables directly contribute to developmental outcomes and the strength (or importance) of the contributions of these variables compared to other variables. Tracking the role and strength of the contribution made by these variables across age periods will permit the assessment of possible developmental changes in susceptibility to influence by reproductive and environmental/caretaking variables.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||23|
|Journal||Birth Defects: Original Article Series|
|State||Published - 1989|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology