Genetics plays a major role in many instances of mental retardation, autism, impaired vision and hearing impairment. It is apparent that genetic factors also influence more common neurodevelopmental disorders such as learning disabilities, attention-deficit disorders, Tourette syndrome, and pervasive developmental or communication disorders.

For the pediatrician caring for a child with a developmental disability, an attempt to determine the etiology of the child's condition is very important. Identification of a specific genetic disorder could result in the prevention or amelioration of medical or developmental problems in the infant and young child.

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