Parents and physicians track when children reach developmental milestones. Sometimes, missing these targets or developing abnormal behaviors is an indication of a nervous system disorder and cause for evaluation by medical professionals. Scientists have strong evidence that some childhood disorders, including autism and Rett syndrome, are caused by impairments in brain development. Others such as attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are believed to be caused, in part, by abnormal brain cell activity.
Human and animal research has shown that problems in genes, molecules, and cells contribute to various childhood disorders. These studies could one day lead to the development of new drugs or specialized education programs, and the early diagnosis of childhood disorders can help parents make informed decisions about treatment.