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Mental retardation is a relative term. Its meaning depends on what society demands of the individual in learning, skills, and social responsibility. Many people who are considered developmentally challenged in the complex modern world would get along normally in a simpler society.
Diagnosis: There is no absolute measurement for retardation. At one time the different types were classified only according to the apparent severity of the retardation. Since the most practical standard was intelligence, the degree of retardation was based on the score of the patient on intelligence tests such as the intelligence quotient (IQ). The average person is considered to have an IQ of between 90 and 110, and those who score below 70 are considered mentally retarded.
In the past, the different groupings were classified in terms such as feebleminded, idiot, imbecile, and moron. Today, most health care providers use the following classifications: for IQ's from 50 to 70, mild; 35 to 50, moderate; 20 to 35, severe; under 20, profound. Whatever classifications are used, it is agreed that IQ measurements are only one part of the factors to be considered in determining mental retardation. Others, such as the patient's adaptability to surroundings, the services and training available, and the amount of control shown over his or her emotions, are also very important.
About 85 per cent of patients considered mentally retarded are in the least severe, or mild, group. Those in this group do not usually have obvious physical defects and thus are not always easy to identify as mentally retarded while they are still infants. Sometimes such a child's mental defects do not show up until the time of entering school, when the child has difficulty learning and keeping up with others in the same age group. Many persons who are in the mild category, as adults can find employment or a place in society suitable to their abilities, so that they are no longer identified as mentally retarded.
Cause: The cause of mental retardation is often unidentifiable; known ones are classified as either genetic or acquired. Genetic conditions include chromosomal abnormalities such as down syndrome and klinefelter's syndrome and errors of metabolism such as phenylketonuria, hypothyroidism, and tay-sachs disease. Acquired conditions may be prenatal, perinatal, or postnatal. Prenatal conditions include rubella and other viral infections, toxins, placental insufficiency, and blood type incompatibility. Perinatal causes are anoxia, birth injury, and prematurity. Postnatal causes may include infections, poisons, poor nutrition, trauma, and sociocultural factors such as deprivation.
Many conditions that can cause severe retardation can be diagnosed during pregnancy, and in some cases proper treatment can lessen or even prevent retardation. Proper care for the mother during pregnancy and for the baby in the first months of life is also important.
secondary sex characteristicEndocrinology The constellation of changes in hair distribution, body configuration, and genital size in boys or girls at the time of puberty
mentalPertaining to the mind.
Patient discussion about mental
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