• 530.541.3420 | 2170 South Avenue, S. Lake Tahoe, CA

Glossary - Growth and Development

| A || B || C || D || E || F || G || H || I || J || K || L || M || N || O || P || Q || R || S || T || U || V || W || X || Y || Z |


[back to top]

accommodation - the ability of the eye to focus.

adolescence - a period of life in which the biological and psychosocial transition from childhood to adulthood occurs.

adolescent medicine - a subspecialty of pediatric medicine with a focus on providing holistic healthcare to adolescent patients and treating medical problems that are common during adolescence.

aerobic exercise - a type of physical exercise that increases the work of the heart and lungs. Examples are running, jogging, swimming, dancing.

affective disorder (Also known as mood disorder.) - a category of mental health problems that include depressive disorders.

allergy - an acquired, abnormal immune response to a substance that can cause a broad range of inflammatory reactions.

amblyopia - sometimes called "lazy eye," is the reduction or dimming of vision in an eye that appears to be normal. This condition develops when the brain and eye are not working together properly.

amenorrhea - absence or cessation of menstrual periods.

amenorrhea, primary - from the beginning and lifelong; menstruation never begins at puberty.

amenorrhea, secondary - due to some physical cause and usually of later onset; a condition in which menstrual periods which were at one time normal and regular become increasing abnormal and irregular or absent.

anomaly - an alteration in what is normal, such as a birth defect a child is born with.

anorexia nervosa (Also called anorexia.) - an eating disorder characterized by low body weight (less than 85 percent of normal weight for height and age), a distorted body image, and an intense fear of gaining weight.

anovulation - failure of the ovaries to produce or release mature eggs.

areola - dark area of skin that surrounds the nipple of the breast.

assistive devices - technical tools and devices such as alphabet boards, text telephones, or text-to-speech conversion software used to assist people with physical or emotional disorders in performing certain actions, tasks, and activities.

astigmatism - a vision problem that is due to an abnormal curvature of the eye. It can result in blurred images.

attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - a behavior disorder, usually first diagnosed in childhood, that is characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and, in some cases, hyperactivity.

audiologist - a healthcare professional trained to identify and measure hearing impairments and related disorders using a variety of tests and procedures.

auditory brainstem response (ABR) test - test used for hearing in infants and young children, or to test for brain functioning in unresponsive patients.

auditory nerve - eighth cranial nerve that connects the inner ear to the brainstem.

autistic disorder (Also called autism.) - a neurological and developmental disorder that usually appears during the first three years of life. A child with autism appears to live in his/her own world, showing little interest in others, and a lack of social awareness. The focus of an autistic child is a consistent routine and includes an interest in repeating odd and peculiar behaviors. Autistic children often have problems in communication, avoid eye contact, and show limited attachment to others.

axilla - armpit.


[back to top]

barium - a liquid used to coat the inside of organs so they will show up on an x-ray.

barium enema - a procedure done to evaluate the large intestine for abnormalities. A fluid called barium that shows up well on x-rays is given into the rectum as an enema. An x-ray of the abdomen shows strictures (narrowed areas), obstructions (blockages), and other problems.

benign - non-cancerous.

binge eating disorder - a disorder that resembles bulimia nervosa and is characterized by episodes of uncontrolled eating (or bingeing). It differs from bulimia, however, because its sufferers do not purge their bodies of the excess food, via vomiting, laxative abuse, or diuretic abuse.

bingeing - a destructive pattern of excessively overeating.

biopsy - procedure in which tissue samples are removed from the body for microscopic examination to establish a diagnosis.

body mass index (BMI) - a measure to determine the amount of body fat and amount of lean body mass.

bowel - small and large intestine.

bulimia nervosa (Also known as bulimia.) - a disease in which there is uncontrolled episodes of overeating that are usually followed with purging (self-induced vomiting), misuse of laxatives, enemas, medications, fasting, or excessive exercise to decrease weight.


[back to top]

candidiasis - a fungal (yeast) infection, often in the mouth, called thrush, or in the diaper area.

cataract - a change in the structure of the crystalline lens that causes blurred vision.

cervicitis - an inflammation of the cervix by a number of different organisms.

cervix - the lower, narrow part of the uterus (womb) located between the bladder and the rectum. It forms a canal that opens into the vagina, which leads to the outside of the body.

chlamydial infection - very common sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacteria-like organism in the urethra and reproductive system.

chronic - a problem that lasts for a long time.

cochlea - snail-shaped structure in the inner ear that contains the organ of hearing.

cochlear implant - medical device that bypasses damaged structures in the inner ear and directly stimulates auditory nerve to allow some deaf individuals to learn to hear and interpret sounds and speech.

cognitive development - development of the ability to think and reason.

colic - a condition in an otherwise healthy baby that is characterized by excessive crying.

communication disorders - communication disorders are developmental disorders that include expressive language disorder, which focuses on developmental delays and difficulties in the ability to produce speech, and mixed receptive-expressive language disorder, which focuses on developmental delays and difficulties in the ability to understand spoken language and produce speech.

composite resins - white fillings; a composite resin is a tooth-colored plastic mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide) that is used primarily for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the color of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth.

conductive hearing impairment - hearing loss caused by dysfunction of the outer or middle ear.

congenital - present at birth.

conjunctiva - the membrane that lines the exposed eyeball and the inside of the eyelid.

constipation - hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass in a bowel movement, or having fewer than three bowel movements per week.

cornea - the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye.

crown - a "cap" that covers a cracked or broken tooth, unfixed by a filling, to approximate its normal size and shape.

cyst - a closed sac in or under the skin that is filled with fluid or semisolid material. Breast cysts are generally benign.

cytomegalovirus (CMV) - one group of herpes viruses that infect humans and can cause a variety of clinical symptoms including deafness or hearing impairment; infection with the virus may be either before or after birth.


[back to top]

decibel - unit that measures the intensity or loudness of sound.

deciduous teeth - also known as "baby" or primary teeth.

dehydration - when the bloodstream and the cells of the body contain less fluid than normal, often due to vomiting or diarrhea. The body's mineral balance may also be affected.

dental amalgams - also known as silver fillings, dental amalgams are comprised of a mixture of mercury (45 to 50 percent) and an alloy of silver, tin, and copper (50 to 55 percent).

dental fluorosis - a condition that results from drinking overly fluoridated water that often causes the teeth to become discolored and the enamel of the teeth to look spotted, pitted, or stained.

dental implants - small dental appliances that are inserted into the upper and lower jaws to help rebuild a mouth that has few or no restorable teeth.

dental pulp - the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue.

dental sealant - a thin, plastic film that is painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth - molars and premolars - to prevent tooth decay.

depression - a mood disorder characterized by extreme feelings of sadness, lack of self-worth, and dejection.

diaper rash - an irritation of the skin in the diaper area.

diarrhea - increase in frequency of stools compared to normal, or looser bowel movements than usual. Causes include infections of the digestive system, medicines such as antibiotics, malabsorption, and irritable bowel syndrome.

digestion - how the body breaks down food and uses it for energy, cell repair, and growth. Starts in the mouth, continues in the stomach and small intestine, and is completed in the large intestine. The liver and pancreas add enzymes and juices that aid in this process.

digestive tract - the organs that are involved in digestion; including the mouth, salivary glands, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, and large intestine.

disorder of written expression - a difficulty with writing skills such as understanding grammar or punctuation, spelling, paragraph organization, or composing written information.

DMD - Doctor of Dental Medicine.

ducts - narrow tube structures or channels that carry body fluids. In the breast, ducts transport milk from the lobules to the nipple.

dyslexia - a reading disorder characterized by reading ability below the expected level given a child's age, school grade, and intelligence.

dysmenorrhea - pain or discomfort experienced just before or during a menstrual period.

dysmenorrhea, primary - from the beginning and usually lifelong; severe and frequent menstrual cramping caused by uterine contractions.

dysmenorrhea, secondary - due to some physical cause and usually of later onset; painful menstrual periods caused by an another medical condition present in the body (i.e., pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis).

dysthymia (Also known as dysthymic disorder.) - classified as a type of affective disorder (or mood disorder) that often resembles a less severe, yet more chronic form of major (clinical) depression. However, persons with dysthymia may also experience major depressive episodes at times.


[back to top]

eating disorders - abnormal eating behaviors.

encopresis - constipation and intestinal obstruction (blockage) lead to an involuntary leakage of loose stool.

endometriosis - condition in which tissue resembling that of the endometrium grows outside the uterus, on or near the ovaries or fallopian tubes, or in other areas of the pelvic cavity.

endometrium - mucous membrane lining of the inner surface of the uterus that grows during each menstrual cycle and is shed in menstrual blood.

enema - a liquid placed into the rectum to either clear stool out of the large intestine, or to examine the large intestine with an x-ray (barium enema).

enuresis - loss of urine, especially at night in bed.

eruption - when a tooth emerges from the gums.

estrogen - a group of hormones secreted by the ovaries which affect many aspects of the female body, including a woman's menstrual cycle and normal sexual and reproductive development.

eustachian tube - a canal that links the middle ear with the throat area. The eustachian tube helps to keep the pressure between the outer ear and the middle ear the same. Having the same pressure allows for the proper transfer of sound waves. The eustachian tube is lined with mucous, just like the inside of the nose and throat.

extraction - removing of a tooth from the oral cavity.


[back to top]

fat necrosis - a benign breast condition in which painless, round, firm lumps caused by damaged and disintegrating fatty tissues form in the breast tissue, often in response to a bruise or blow to the breast.

fiber - fiber is an ingredient in edible plants that aids in digestion. Fiber helps keep the stool soft, and keeps it traveling easily through the intestine. Fiber is found in vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains.

fibroadenoma - a solid, smooth, benign lump that is commonly found in women in their late teens and early twenties.

fibrocystic breast disease (Also called fibroid breasts or generalized breast lumpiness.) - noncancerous irregularities and lumpiness in the breast tissue.

fluoride - a mineral that can be found in water and toothpaste that can help prevent tooth decay.

follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) - hormone secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain that stimulates the growth and maturation of eggs in females and sperm in males, and sex hormone production in both males and females.


[back to top]

gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) - movement of food, fluids, and digestive juices from the stomach back up into the esophagus; causes irritation of the esophagus with acid, resulting in discomfort. GERD occurs when the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus, known as the lower esophageal sphincter, opens when it should stay closed, or is weak.

gastrointestinal - relating to the digestive tract.

genitals - external sex organs.

genital herpes - a sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes simplex virus.

genital warts - a sexually transmitted disease caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

glaucoma - increased intraocular pressure that can result in optic nerve damage and loss of sight.


[back to top]

halitosis - an oral health condition characterized by consistently odorous breath.

hearing - series of events in which sound waves in the air are converted to electrical signals and are then sent as nerve impulses to the brain where they are interpreted.

hearing aid - electronic device that brings amplified sound to the ear.

hearing disorder - disruption in the normal hearing process; sound waves are not converted to electrical signals and nerve impulses are not transmitted to the brain to be interpreted.

herpes virus - a virus which can affect the skin and central nervous system.

Hirschsprung's disease - Caused by malformation of a baby's large intestine during pregnancy. Some of the nerve cells that are normally present are missing, causing problems moving stool through the intestine. This can cause obstruction (blockage) of the intestine.

human papillomaviruses (HPVs) - a group of viruses that can cause warts. Some HPVs are sexually transmitted and cause wart-like growths on the genitals. HPV is associated with some types of cancer.

hyperopia - farsightedness.


[back to top]

immunizations (vaccines) - a set of shots given to children at different ages to help keep them from getting dangerous childhood diseases.

inflammatory bowel disease - a disease that results in inflammation of the bowel and may cause bloody diarrhea.

inner ear - part of the ear that contains both the organ of hearing (cochlea) and the organ of balance (labyrinth).

intussusception - a disorder in which the intestine folds into itself in a telescope fashion, causing obstruction (blockage).

iris - the colored part of the eye. The iris is partly responsible for regulating the amount of light permitted to enter the eye.


[back to top]

jaundice - a yellow color of the skin and eyes that is caused by too much bilirubin in the bloodstream due to liver problems.


[back to top]

kyphosis - a disorder of the spine in which the spine shows evidence of a forward curvature of the backbone in the upper back area, giving a person a "humpback" appearance.


[back to top]

labyrinth - organ of balance located in the inner ear. The labyrinth consists of three semicircular canals and the vestibule.

language - system for communicating ideas and feelings using sounds, gestures, signs, or marks.

language disorders - problems with verbal communication and the ability to use or understand the symbol system for interpersonal communication.

large intestine - also known as the colon. The last section of the digestive tract, from the cecum to the rectum. Absorbs water from digested food and processes it into stool.

larynx (also called the voice box) - a cylindrical grouping of cartilage, muscles, and soft tissue which contains the vocal cords. The vocal cords are the upper opening into the windpipe (trachea), the passageway to the lungs.

learning disorder - learning disorders are characterized by difficulties in an academic area (either reading, mathematics, or written expression) such that the child's ability to achieve in the specific academic area is below what is expected for the child's age, schooling, and level of intelligence.

lens (also called crystalline lens) - the transparent structure inside the eye that focuses light rays onto the retina.

lobe - a roundish projection of any structure. In the breast, lobes of the mammary glands radiate from the central area to the nipple area like wheel spokes.

lobule - a subdivision of a lobe in the breast.

lymph nodes - small bean-shaped structures that help to filter excess fluid, bacteria, and by-products of infections. Most lymph nodes are clustered in specific areas of the body, such as the mouth, neck, lower arm, armpit, and groin.

lymphatic system - tissues and organs, including bone marrow, spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes, that produce, store, and carry white blood cells to fight infection and disease.


[back to top]

malocclusion - an orthodontic or orthognathic problem that means "bad bite," including crowded, missing, or crooked teeth, extra teeth, or a misaligned jaw.

major depression (Also known as clinical depression or unipolar depression.) - classified as a type of affective disorder (or mood disorder) that goes beyond the day's ordinary ups and downs, and has become a serious medical condition and important health concern in this country.

mammogram - a low-dose x-ray of the breast.

mastoid - back portion of the temporal bone behind the ear.

meconium - a sticky, greenish-black substance that forms in the intestines during fetal development and is the first bowel movement of a newborn.

menarche - a young woman's first menstrual period.

meningitis - inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that envelop the brain and the spinal cord; may cause hearing loss or deafness.

menses - menstrual flow.

menstruation - a cyclical process of the endometrium shedding its lining, along with discharge from the cervix and vagina, from the vaginal opening. This process results from the mature egg cell (ovum) not being fertilized by a sperm cell as it travels from one of the ovaries down a fallopian tube to the uterus, in the process called ovulation.

middle ear - part of the ear that includes the eardrum and three tiny bones of the middle ear, ending at the round window that leads to the inner ear.

mood disorder (Also known as affective disorder.) - a category of mental health problems which includes depressive disorders.

Moro reflex - Involuntary movement of arms and legs that occurs when a newborn is startled by a loud sound or movement.

myopia - nearsightedness.


[back to top]

nocturnal emissions (Also called wet dreams.) - unintentional release of semen while sleeping.

noise-induced hearing loss - hearing loss that is caused either by a one-time or repeated exposure to very loud sound or sounds at various loudness levels over an extended period of time.

non-refractive error - a problem with the eye that results in a decrease in vision. These problems cannot be corrected with eyeglasses alone.


[back to top]

obesity - a generalized accumulation of body fat.

object permanence - an ability to know that something still exists even though it cannot be seen.

ophthalmoscopy - examination of the internal structure of the eye.

oral and maxillofacial surgeon - an orthopedic facial surgeon who is responsible for treating a wide variety of dental problems, including the removal of impacted teeth (orthognathic surgery) and reconstructive facial surgery.

oropharynx - the part of the throat at the back of the mouth.

orthodontics - the dental specialty that focuses on the development, prevention, and correction of irregularities of the teeth, bite, and jaws.

orthodontist - a dentist who evaluates the position and alignment of your child's teeth and coordinates a treatment plan with the surgeon and other specialists.

otitis externa - inflammation of the outer part of the ear extending to the auditory canal.

otitis media - inflammation of the middle ear caused by infection.

otoacoustic emissions - low-intensity sounds produced by the inner ear that can be quickly measured with a sensitive microphone placed in the ear canal.

otolaryngologist - a physician who specializes in diseases of the ears, nose, throat, and head and neck.

otologist - a physician who specializes in diseases of the ear.

outer ear - external portion of the ear, consisting of the pinna, or auricle, and the ear canal.

ovaries - the two female reproductive organs located in the pelvis.

overweight - increased body size with increased lean body mass and without excess accumulation of body fat.

ovulation - release of a mature egg from an ovary.

ovum - a mature egg cell released during ovulation from an ovary.


[back to top]

Pap test (Also called Pap smear.) - Test that involves microscopic examination of cells collected from the cervix, used to detect changes that may be cancer or may lead to cancer, and to show noncancerous conditions, such as infection or inflammation.

papilla - any type of nipple shaped object, such as the nipple of the breast.

pediatric dentist - a dentist who specializes in the oral healthcare of children, from infancy through the teenage years.

pelvic examination - an internal examination of the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and rectum.

pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) - inflammation of the pelvic organs caused by a type of bacteria.

periodontal diseases (Also called gum diseases.) - serious bacterial infections that destroy the gums and the surrounding tissues of the mouth.

periodontist - a specialist in the field of dentistry responsible for the care and prevention of gum-related diseases, guided bone regeneration, and dental implants.

plaque - a thin, sticky film of bacteria.

polyp - a growth that projects from the lining of mucous membrane, such as the intestine.

porcelain veneers - a ceramic material is bonded to the front of teeth to change the tooth's color, size, and/or shape.

premenstrual syndrome (PMS) - a group of physical and emotional symptoms that some women experience during their menstrual cycle. Although the symptoms usually cease with onset of the menstrual period, in some women, symptoms may last through and after their menstrual periods.

presbyopia - a form of farsightedness in which it is difficult to focus on close objects or to read and occurs as a child ages.

progesterone - female hormone.

prosthodontist - a dental specialist who has undergone additional training and certification in the restoration and replacement of broken teeth with crowns, bridges, or removable prosthetics (dentures).

puberty - a sequence of events by which a child becomes a young adult; characterized by secretions of hormones, development of secondary sexual characteristics, reproductive functions, and growth spurts.

pupil - the opening in the middle of the iris through which light passes to the back of the eye.

pupillary response - the constriction or dilation of the pupil as stimulated by light.

purging - persons with bulimia nervosa engage in a destructive pattern of ridding their bodies of the excess calories (to control their weight) by vomiting, abusing laxatives or diuretics, taking enemas, and/or exercising obsessively - a process called purging.


[back to top]


[back to top]

reading disorder - a learning disorder characterized by reading abilities below the expected level for her/his age, school grade, and intelligence.

rectum - the lower end of the large intestine.

reflex - an unintentional movement or action.

reflux - digestive juices, food, and liquids moving backward from the stomach into the esophagus, and possibly into the mouth.

refractive error - abnormal shape of the cornea that results in decreased vision. This type of problem can usually be corrected with glasses or contacts.

retina - the light-sensitive nerve layer that lines the back of the eye. The retina senses light and creates impulses that are sent through the optic nerve to the brain.

Reye syndrome - A specific disease process that can affect the liver, brain, pancreas, kidney, heart and muscle. It usually occurs in children under 18 years of age. It typically starts with a red rash, vomiting, and confusion that follows a viral infection. This can lead into seizures, coma, and breathing problems. The cause of Reye syndrome is not known although a variety of factors are thought to be involved, such as genetics or the use of aspirin during a viral illness.

rooting - when a newborn turns his/her head toward touch near the mouth.

rotavirus - a virus that causes diarrhea. It is the most common cause of infectious diarrhea in the United States, especially in children under 2 years old.

rubella - a contagious viral disease that can be harmful to an unborn baby.


[back to top]

sclerosing adenosis - a benign breast condition that involves excessive growth of tissues in the breast's lobules, often resulting in breast pain.

scoliosis - a disorder of the spine in which the spine shows evidence of a lateral, or sideways, curvature, and a rotation of the backbones. This can give the appearance that the person is leaning to one side.

seizures - uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain that can lead to abnormal muscle movements, changes in behavior, or loss of consciousness.

sensorineural hearing loss - hearing loss caused by damage to the sensory cells and/or nerve fibers of the inner ear.

sexually transmitted disease (STD) - infection spread through sexual intercourse and other intimate sexual contact.

sign language - language of hand shapes, facial expressions, and movements used as a form of communication.

sound vocalization - ability to produce voice.

speech - making definite vocal sounds that form words to express thoughts and ideas.

speech disorder - defect or abnormality that prevents an individual from communicating by means of spoken words.

speech-language pathologist - health professional trained to evaluate and treat people who have voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorders, including hearing impairment, that affect their ability to communicate.

stool - waste products that remain after food is digested, including fiber, bacteria, mucus, undigested foods, and cells from the inside of the intestine. Stool is passed through the rectum as a bowel movement.

strabismus - a condition in which the eyes are crossed.

stuttering - frequent repetition of words or parts of words that disrupts the smooth flow of speech.

sudden deafness - loss of hearing that occurs quickly from causes such as explosion, a viral infection, or the use of some drugs.

syphilis - a disease, usually transmitted by sexual contact, whose initial symptom is a painless open sore that usually appears on the penis or around or in the vagina. If untreated, syphilis may go on to more advanced stages, including a transient rash and, eventually, serious involvement of the heart and central nervous system.


[back to top]

temporomandibular joints (TMJ) - the two complex joints that connect the jaw (mandible) to the skull (temporal bone).

toxoplasmosis - an infectious disease caused by a parasite that can be harmful to an unborn baby.

trichomoniasis - very common type of vaginitis caused by a single-celled organism usually transmitted during sexual contact.


[back to top]

urethra - narrow channel through which urine passes from the bladder out of the body.

urethritis - infection limited to the urethra.

uterus (Also called the womb.) - a hollow, pear-shaped organ located in a female's lower abdomen, between the bladder and the rectum.


[back to top]

vagina (Also called the birth canal.) - the passageway through which fluid passes out of the body during menstrual periods. The vagina connects the cervix (the opening of the womb, or uterus) and the vulva (the external genitalia).

vaginitis - inflammation, redness, or swelling of the vaginal tissues; usually resulting from a bacterial infection.

vaginitis, bacterial - very common vaginal infection characterized by symptoms such as increased vaginal discharge or itching, burning, or redness in the genital area.

vaginitis, noninfectious - a type of vaginitis that usually refers to vaginal irritation without an infection being present. Most often, the infection is caused by an allergic reaction to, or irritation from, vaginal sprays, douches, or spermicidal products. It may also be caused by sensitivity to perfumed soaps, detergents, or fabric softeners.

vaginitis, viral - very common vaginal infection, often sexually transmitted, that is caused by one of many different types of viruses (i.e., herpes simplex virus, human papillomavirus).

visual acuity - the space visible to an eye in a given position of gaze.

vomiting - the release of stomach contents through the mouth; also known as throwing-up.

vulva - external, visible part of the female genital area.

vulvitis - an inflammation of the vulva, the soft folds of skin outside the vagina. This is not a condition but rather a symptom that results from a host of diseases, infections, injuries, allergies, and other irritants.


[back to top]


[back to top]


[back to top]

yeast infection (Also called Candida.) - one type of vaginitis caused by the Candida fungus characterized by itching, burning, or redness of the vaginal area.


[back to top]