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Birth Complications and Child Development Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 25th, 2020


Undesired birth outcomes are key determinants that affect the survival and early experiences of a baby. This thesis develops by drawing from research findings of various disciplines including developmental sociology, psychology, medicine, and education.

This paper will consider how multiple contexts from preconception to childcare are subject to socio-economic level, cultural background, and health influence when shaping early development in children below the age of 2 years. The paper uses peer-reviewed articles to explore the topic and generate integrated information.


The preconception period is the time during which couples plan their gestation, while pregnancy is the period taken for a child to develop in the womb, while immediate and running to about two months is the postpartum period. These moments are fundamental and reproductive women should give priority to their general well-being in terms of physical health, mental health, socio-economic wellbeing, and other external factors.

During this period, it is wise to evaluate and make necessary adjustments in lifestyle and choose a diet that helps in the elimination of any possible obstetric undesirable outcomes. This paper incorporates the aforementioned factors to discuss the normative development of a baby by examining the typical changes that are believed to alter the early experiences of a child.

The paper will also seek to elaborate how children differ and what adds up to these variations during early development. The paper concludes by identifying that postnatal health, parental awareness, and socio-economic disparities significantly influence newborn complications, thus leading to undesired early child experiences.

Literature review

This paper entails a detailed analysis of current information sourced from peer-reviewed academic sources related to this topic by adding to the already established knowledge as well as reviewing the work. According to Martina, Stefan, Eduardo, and Sven (2014), obesity amongst reproductive women plays a major role on both pre-birth and after birth children’s development.

Martina et al. (2014) posit that overweight pregnant women are at a great risk of oxygen deficit on the fetus, thus creating complications on the baby upon birth. However, other studies dispute this argument by claiming that even average weighing women may develop complications.

It should be noted that this study highlights that underweight pregnant women encounter several birth complications as well. Other studies predict that pregnancy and baby complications arise from poor or undesired health conditions (Witt, Wisk, Cheng, Hampton, & Hagen, 2012). The majority of the reviews are consistent and they show a multi-disciplinary integration, thus making the information the most viable to adopt.


This research hypothesized that most of the early child experiences and complications are significantly associated with the wellbeing of the mother. The conditions exposed to the expecting woman and the immediate environment largely determine the fate of the newborn. Figure 1 below elaborates on several individual factors that risk early developmental complications among children such as low birth weight or premature births.

Figure 1 Individual Risk Factors
Figure 1: Individual Risk Factors. Source: (Witt et al., 2012)

Figure 1 above shows that early child experiences are predetermined as early as at the preconception stage when both parents play an important role, which projects to pregnancy through, postpartum to the caregiving stage after birth. The framework shows that the latter is due to the cumulative effect.

Although independent effects such as illnesses or environmental effects might arise after childbirth, they still have a correlation to the former. The non-live births are indicated because they are a possible outcome of birth complications, but they do not account highly since early child experiences are not involved to support this thesis.


Early child development from postnatal to 2 years of development is a very crucial stage, which determines a child’s cognitive, intellectual ability, socio-emotional, and physical development even beyond the early age. A child’s development is determined by several biological factors [nature] and environmental factors [nurture].

Some factors promote child development while others hinder it, thus causing undesired developmental outcomes. Some of the factors that compromise postnatal development include chronic factors such as poor care giver-child interactions, postnatal nutrition, infections, neglect, poverty, and limited access to postnatal childcare health services. Possible causes that may influence birth complications and lead to poor early child development are discussed below.


Maternal overweight and obesity have been increasing steadily since the past decade. Studies show escalating prevalence of delivery complications and postnatal baby disorders among obese and overweight pregnant women. Even though these assertions are not always certain, studies have shown consistency in reporting and the probability stays higher for obese and overweight women to have birth complications as compared to average weighing women.

However, this assertion is biased since no study identifies that underweight expecting mothers face childbirth complications. Conventionally, obesity and overweight women are the highly debated topics with Martina et al. (2014) suggesting that neonatal complications such as difficulties in breathing are reported in babies born of obese and overweight women.

Obesity is associated with complications leading to cord coiling and risking the possibility of birth asphyxia, which is a condition that leads to weak breathing or no breathing during or after birth. However, underweight pregnant women have potential birth complications as well. For example, cases of preterm birth [babies born before the gestating 37 weeks] are often associated with underweight women.

Babies born before the due time need to be supported in incubators, which do not provide the needed fetus supplements. Although the majority of them survive and develop completely, later in life, they may show incidences of learning difficulties, but adjust to compete with other children reasonably.

Preconception, pregnancy and postpartum

Parental planning during preconception is very vital and it is subject to mental health, physical, and psychological well-being of the partners. If there are socio-economic difficulties, then the preconception decisions are influenced negatively. These effects are transmitted to pregnancy and later to the child after birth.

Women who have poor preconception mental and physical health are reported to have complications in their pregnancy and they are likely to have stillbirths with few cases of live births having complications (Witt et al., 2012). The cumulative effects spill over during birth and after birth.

The newborns may have physical deformations, low weight, or they may be born prematurely. The resultant effect shows why children experience different developmental conditions. At the age of two years, children with complications exhibit high incidences of coping difficulties, but they manage to adopt if accorded proper parental care.

predicted outcomes on cases reported of any complications, non-live births, and low baby weight
Figure 2. Source (Witt et al., 2012)

Figure 2 above displays the predicted outcomes on cases reported of any complications, non-live births, and low baby weight with regard to racial and ethnic affiliation as influenced by socio-economic disparities. The conceptual framework above indicates that women with poor social support are reported to have babies with low weight.

The study shows that black women are likely to have pregnancy complications resulting in higher rates of low birth weights as compared to their white counterparts. These disparities can be explained by the inferiority complex among black women and unawareness due to the reluctance to acquire parental education.

Parenting environment

Polluted environment can cause adverse problems on birth outcomes via several underlying biological complications. Smoking during pregnancy can lead to induction of inflammatory processes and vulnerability to infections. Air pollution influences the blood pressure for the pregnant women especially in areas with adversely pollution. The changes in blood pressure affect the development of the fetus, which may lead to high susceptibility to infant related infections (Lee, Roberts, Catov, Talbott & Ritz, 2013).


Poverty is a universal phenomenon, which can affect anybody. Although postpartum complications can occur to any family, poverty and after birth complications are closely intertwined and it raises the possibilities of undesired conditions such as disabilities and poor intellectual progress. Expectant women leading poor lifestyles are highly likely to have poor health, poor diets, and exposure to polluted neighborhoods.

These elements culminate in poor fetal development. Infants born under such conditions are highly vulnerable to physical and mental dysfunctions. Children raised in poverty are more vulnerable to postnatal complications, as compared to those in high socio-economic cadre due to the wide exposure to health risks (Gonzalez-Mena & Eyer, 2012). In addition, poverty influences the quality of preconception to postpartum care of the mother, and thus the wellbeing of the baby is compromised.

Care giver-child interactions

Depressive childcare environments pose major risks when nurturing the adjusting of the baby. Parental care is very vital even when the baby might appear to be less interested. The caregiver should keep close and informed care by ensuring stable health of both the child and the caregiver.

Some cultural beliefs place negative attitudes, for instance, towards children with disabilities. This aspect limits the social support accorded to a family, thus causing detrimental effects on psychological health of the parents, hence altering their concentration and ability to respond to the needs of their babies. However, the babies develop within a regressive lifestyle and respond with bad health or poor coordination (Gonzalez-Mena, & Eyer 2012).

Strengths and limitations

This study integrated multi-disciplinary data covering wide socio-demographic and psycho-medical analysis; hence, it is rich in consistent findings supported by empirical evidence. On the other hand, the study met some drawbacks when interpreting the findings.

The disparities are due to the assumptions that people who experienced poor preconception socio-economic and mental health influenced the early development of the child thereby underestimating the results. The study did not consider the possible birth complications related to the genetic composition. In addition, underreporting was a major setback since most people felt that giving parental information was intrusion to their private life.

Assessment and future planning

Birth complications intervention has been a highly debated topic, and thus much has been done to minimize the cases, but new trends in medical complications are emerging with time. This aspect requires accurate assessment and clear understanding of proper preconception, pregnancy, and postnatal care. This goal can be achieved by involving parents in parental education conducted by professional childcare providers.

Parents are the key actors in early child planning process. Primary and keen health care for the expectant women is the starting point to ensuring stable births and desirable development of the child. Primary health care workers can help pregnant women to address some impending complications, which parents do not anticipate. Social medical programs like free Medicare and pregnancy screening should be established to cater for the less privileged.

Some of the simple, but most ignored aspects that determine the physical development of the child up to two years and beyond include using correctly sized diapers for kids. Oversize diapers may force extra spreading of legs to contain the extra fabric, which might lead to rickets. In addition, a form of holding aping the kangaroo care is advisable. This involves holding the baby around the caregiver’s chest allowing skin contact to enable warming, which keep child’s temperature at stable levels.


Despite the continuing efforts to understand and control birth complications, the rate of their occurrence is high. Explanations given for birth complications include preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum health care. Due to lack of childcare education, most infants experience mild effects, which uninformed mothers fail to figure out.

This situation gradually develops and it can cause serious and permanent risks such as deafness, blindness, or slow intellectual progress. The majority of parents deal directly with the young children and they contribute largely to their development, and thus they should be educated and given social support for the sake of the toddlers.

This paper predicts possible future birth complexities and recommends further research to identify the emerging medical situations largely due to the changing lifestyles.

For instance, eating habits, violence, dressing code during pregnancy, and polluted neighborhoods expose the young ones to negative developmental problems. Since birth complications are a global affair, governments should join forces and make suitable reforms. Policy makers should direct enough funding to preconception and pregnancy programs and moderate the current efforts on treating the postpartum problems.


Berk, E. (2011). Infants, Children, and Adolescents. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.

Gonzalez-Mena, J., & Eyer, D. W. (2012). Infants, toddlers, and caregivers: A curriculum of respectful, responsive, relationship-based, care and education. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Lee, P., Roberts, M., Catov, J., Talbott, O., & Ritz, B. (2013). First Trimester Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution, Pregnancy complications and adverse birth Outcomes in Allegheny County, PA. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 17(5), 545-555.

Martina, P., Stefan, J., Eduardo, V., & Sven, C. (2014). Maternal overweight, obesity, and risks of severe birth-asphyxia-related complications in term infants: a population-based cohort study in Sweden. Maternal Obesity and Birth Asphyxia, 11(5), 1-9.

Witt, P., Wisk, F., Cheng, R., Hampton, M., & Hagen, W. (2012). Preconception Mental Health Predicts Pregnancy Complications and Adverse Birth Outcomes: A National Population-Based Study. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 16(7), 1525-1541.

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