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The biopsychosocial model of infant development

The biopsychosocial model Clinicians working with infants and their parents are often called upon to consider a range of issues from both the infant’s and the parents’ points of view. Many concerns that are presented in a clinical setting may be described in a linear way, as a straightforward problem such as ‘He won’t eat’ or ‘I can’t get her to sleep’. There are multiple factors that may contribute to descriptions of problems such as these, and some parents may be further worried about existing physical or developmental concerns about their child. A comprehensive account of infant development needs to look at biological, psychological and sociocultural factors and the manner in which these interact and contribute to overall developmental outcome. This is called the biopsychosocial model and is an important framework for understanding developmental problems and for approaching intervention and prevention. Many clinical interventions and preventive programs aim to identify risk factors and enhance protective factors. It also follows from this model that developmental problems are multifactorial—that is, several factors usually interact to result in a particular problem and numerous different clusters of factors may interact to result in the same clinical presentation. The framework allows clinicians to consider a range of factors in formulating an approach to a problem that includes information from many sources, such as medical tests, observations, talking with the parents and understanding their observations.

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