What are the Causes of LD


Much research is now being done to determine causes of learning disabilities. Experts are not yet sure as to the cause. In simplified terms it is thought to be caused by differences in how a person's brain works and how it processes information. What was once thought of as a simple neurological problem has now been proven to be more complex.

New evidence seems to show that most learning disabilities do not stem from a single, specific area of the brain, but from difficulties in bringing together information from various brain regions causing subtle disturbances in brain structures and functions.

The three general categories of causation can be classified as

  • Heredity
  • Problems During Pregnancy & Birth
  • Incidents After Birth


  • Genetic factors
  • Heredity aspect to LD so it often runs in the family
  • Not uncommon to find that people with LD have parents, children, or other relatives with similar difficulties

Problems During Pregnancy & Birth

  • Injury or illness during or before birth
  • Tobacco use during pregnancy
  • Alcohol use during pregnancy - dangerous to the fetus' developing brain and may distort the developing neurons
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome - condition that can lead to low birth weigh, intellectual impairment, hyperactivity, and physical defects
  • Low birth weight - those weighing less than 5 pounds tend to be at risk for a variety of problems including learning disorders
  • Drug use during pregnancy – cocaine and its smokable form known as crack-- seem to affect the normal development of brain receptors that help to transmit incoming signals from our skin, eyes, and ears
  • Lack of oxygen to fetus – possibly from twisted umbilical cord
  • Mother's faulty immune system may react to the fetus and attack it as if it were an infection
  • Premature or prolonged labor

Incidents After Birth

  • Head injuries
  • Poor nutrition/diet
  • Exposure to toxic substances (i.e., cadmium and lead)
  • Cancer treatment with chemotherapy or radiation at an early age