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Prenatal Maternal Stress,

Neglect is a process whereby children experience developmental delay owing to experiencing insufficient levels of nurturance. It has been argued that in principle, this means that when starting an assessment of neglect by identifying developmental delay one needs to then check the levels of nurturance received by the child. Certainly, where guidance on identifying neglect does urge for practitioners to measure developmental levels, some guidance urges practitioners to focus on how developmental levels can be attributed to parental behaviour. However, the narrow focus on parental behaviour can be criticised for unnecessarily ruling out the possible effect of institutionalised neglect, e.g. neglect at school.

If one starts by concluding that the levels of nurture received by the child are insufficient, one then needs to consider the developmental levels achieved by the child.

Further challenges arise, however. Even when one has established developmental delay and exposure to low levels of nurture, one needs to rule out the possibility that the link between the two is coincidental. The developmental delay may be caused by a genetic disorder, disease or physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Of course, the developmental delay may be caused by a mixture of underexposure to nurture, abuse, genetics and disease.