Mental Retardation

About Mental Retardation

Mental Retardation is not a disease but it is the condition of brain which occurs due to delay in development. In this condition the child shows limitations in developing and utilizing mental faculties for learning language and numerical skills. These skills are necessary for academics and daily living. The physical growth shows no co-ordination with mental growth; even if the child becomes 10 years old, his/her mental understanding would be of a 3 years old child.

Sometimes the child is also afflicted with other disabilities like hearing, speech and visual impairment or low vision problem, Autism, Polio, and Cerebral Palsy.


Malnutrition in pregnancy is the main cause of mental retardation found in developing countries all over the world. Many women are undernourished and anaemic, and may suffer from mums, measles, or rubella during pregnancy. They may not get vaccinated. Marriages in blood relations, can raise the risk of genetic disorders.

Sometimes it may be chromosomal disorder like in case of Down’s syndrome, Turner’s syndrome etc. Also premature delivery, prolonged labour pain, lack of oxygen, or any other kind of physical harm to brain during delivery, are factors known to lead to mental retardation.

Accidents during very young age like falling down from height or any head injury may cause it. When high body fever is not managed, it may turn into pneumonia causing retardation. Epilepsy is one of the most observed causes which reflects in retardation.


Mental Retardation is incurable but can be managed well to improve daily living. There is no medicine available on it (other than for associated conditions like Epilepsy). Hence, it is important to give utmost importance to ante-natal and post-natal care. Ultra sound Sonography, Genetic counseling, regular meals during pregnancy & after birth of child for both are some of the steps to be taken. It is possible to reduce the incidence of mental retardation by undertaking regular check up of pregnant women leading to remedial measures. For this it is necessary to raise the awareness of the society at large regarding ante-natal and post-natal care.