Mental retardation

Alternative Names

Intellectual and developmental disability

Definition of Mental retardation

Mental retardation is a condition diagnosed before age 18 that includes below-average general intellectual function, and a lack of the skills necessary for daily living.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Mental retardation affects about 1 – 3% of the population. There are many causes of mental retardation, but doctors find a specific reason in only 25% of cases.

Signs and tests

An assessment of age-appropriate adaptive behaviors can be made using developmental screening tests. The failure to achieve developmental milestones suggests mental retardation.

Treatment

The primary goal of treatment is to develop the person’s potential to the fullest. Special education and training may begin as early as infancy. This includes social skills to help the person function as normally as possible.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome depends on:

Review

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 11/2/2009

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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