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Home :: Neurology Disorders

Mental Retardation - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


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Many causes of mental retardation. It can be caused by injury, disease, or a brain abnormality. The most common is abnormal genes inherited from parents, errors when genes combine, or other reasons. Mental retardation can result when the baby does not develop inside the mother properly. Malnutrition is a common cause of reduced intelligence in parts of the world affected by famine such as Ethiopia. Mental retardation can also be caused by extreme malnutrition (not eating right), not getting enough medical care, or by being exposed to poisons like lead or mercury. These may include serious head injury, stroke, or certain infections such as meningitis. Extracurricular activities and social programs are also important in helping retarded children and adolescents gain self-esteem. Family therapy can help relatives of the mentally retarded develop coping skills. Good prenatal care can also help prevent retardation. Pregnant women should be educated about the risks of drinking and the need to maintain good nutrition during pregnancy.

Causes of Mental Retardation

Common Causes and Risk factors of Mental Retardation

  • Genetic factors.
  • Chromosomal abnormalities.
  • Health problems. ( whooping cough , measles , or meningitis ).
  • Iodine deficiency.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Institutionalisation.
  • Sensory deprivation.
  • Environmental factors (low socioeconomic status and poverty ).

Signs and Symptoms of Mental Retardation

Common Sign and Symptoms of Mental Retardation

  • Seizures.
  • Lethargy.
  • Vomiting.
  • Abnormal urine odor.
  • Lack of curiosity.
  • Decreased learning ability.

Treatment for Mental Retardation

Common Treatment for Mental Retardation

  • Extracurricular activities and social programs are also important in helping retarded children.
  • Family therapy can help relatives of the mentally retarded develop coping skills.
  • Behavioral approaches are important in understanding and working with mentally retarded individuals.
  • When a woman is pregnant, it's important that she eats healthy foods and avoids alcohol and drugs.
  • Good prenatal care can also help prevent retardation.
  • The family may need psychologic support. A social worker can organize services to assist the family.
  • Older kids can protect themselves by wearing seat belts in the car and wearing helmets while riding bikes , in-line skating, or using scooters.