Developmental regression in children: Current and future directions

Kirsten Furley*, Chirag Mehra, Robin P. Goin-Kochel, Michael C. Fahey, Matthew F. Hunter, Katrina Williams, Michael Absoud*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Developmental regression describes when a child loses previously established skills, such as the ability to speak words and is most recognised in neurodevelopmental conditions including Autism; Developmental Epileptic Encephalopathies, such as Landau Kleffner syndrome, and genetic conditions such as Rett syndrome and Phelan McDermid syndrome. Although studies have reported developmental regression for over 100 years, there remain significant knowledge gaps within and between conditions that feature developmental regression. The certainty of evidence from earlier work has been limited by condition-specific studies, retrospective methodology, and inconsistency in the definitions and measures used for classification. Given prior limitations in the field, there is a paucity of knowledge about neurocognitive mechanisms, trajectories and outcomes for children with developmental regression, and their families. Here we provide a comprehensive overview, synthesise key definitions, clinical measures, and aetiological clues associated with developmental regression and discuss impacts on caregiver physical and mental health to clarify challenges and highlight future directions in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-17
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Autistic regression
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder
  • Developmental regression
  • Loss of skills
  • Skills loss


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