Free Essay On Mental Retardation

or functional impairments. The impairment must be present before the age of 22, although the diagnosis may be made at any time. This definition of mental retardation differs from that of several other organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association in its DSM-IV, the American Association of Mental Retardation, the World Health Organization in its International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision (ICD-10), and Division 33 (Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities) of the American Psychological Association.

DSM-IV defines mental retardation as significantly subaverage intellectual functioning (i.e., IQ no higher than approximately two standard deviations below the mean), which is accompanied by significant limitations in adaptive functioning in at least two of the following areas: communication, functional academic skills, health, home living, leisure, safety, self-care, self-direction, social/interpersonal skills, use of community resources, and work. Onset of these conditions must occur before age 18. The condition is further divided into four levels of retardation based on IQ, which include mild mental retardation (IQ between 50-55 and 70), moderate mental retardation (IQ between 35-40 and 50-55), severe mental retardation (IQ between 20-25 and 35-40), and profound mental retardation (IQ below 20 or 25) (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).

For AAMR, mental retardation is defined by substantial limitations in present functioning. It is defined as subaverage intellectual functioning that exists concurrently with deficits in two or more of the following adaptive skill areas: communication, self-care, home living, social skills, community use, self-direction, health and safety, functional academics, leisure, and work. The condition has to be manifested before age 18. AAMR further classifies mental retardation based on the nature and level of support needed by the individual, which can be intermittent, limited, extensive, or pervasive (American Association on Mental Retardation, 1992). These levels of support are not necessarily commensurate with the levels of retardation specified in the DSM-IV.

The World Health Organization (WHO), in its ICD-10, defines mental retardation as a “condition of arrested or incomplete develop-

Giving birth to a child is, perhaps, the most significant event in the life of almost any woman. Though today women often prefer to follow a career rather than give birth to children, the majority of young mothers state it is a life-changing experience. Without a doubt, a beautiful, healthy child is the most valued and loved living thing for every mother. But, unfortunately, a certain percentage of children are born with different deviations, both physical and mental. In relation to this, a question arises: what causes mentally-challenged children to be born?

The first and foremost factor that causes mental retardation and other deviations is an excessive use of alcohol by a young mother in the prenatal period—particularly, during the first trimester (12 weeks) of pregnancy. According to statistics, at least one of out of 600 children only in the United States is exposed to fetal alcohol syndrome (Encyclopedia of Children’s Health). Researches show that even moderate intakes of alcohol can affect the mental capabilities of pre-natal children. In addition, smoking tobacco (or other substances) and taking illegal drugs can also cause mental retardation.

Genetics is the second most influential cause of mental retardation among children that should be taken in consideration. Inherited causes of mental retardation are numerous; for example, chances of giving birth to a mentally-challenged child increase if one or both parents were mentally retarded. Sometimes, decreased mental capabilities are caused not by genetic defects or omissions, but rather by abnormalities in chromosomes—structures inside cells’ nucleus that contain genes. Down syndrome is one of such diseases (Human Illnesses).

The factors that are difficult to avoid is ecology and environment. It is not a secret that we live in an age of poor ecology. Industrial and traffic emissions, radiation, stressful factors that affect future mothers—and thus their children—all this increases the chances of giving birth to a child with mental retardation. Besides, in disadvantaged regions, mental handicaps can be caused additionally by malnutrition, disease-producing conditions, and inadequate medical care—both for mothers and children (The Prevention News).

Despite the fact that we live in a technologically-advanced environment, women are still exposed to different dangers that can harm their future children. Not all of them threaten the physical health of children—there is a group of factors that can also inflict mental damage. Among such factors one should mention the overuse of alcohol and other poisonous substances by a women during pregnancy; genetic factors, such as mental retardation of one or both parents, chromosomal defects, and so on; and poor ecology, which negatively affects disadvantaged areas greatly.


“Mental Retardation.” Human Illnesses and Behavioral Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2013. <>.

“Mental Retardation.” Encyclopedia of Children’s Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2013. <>.

“What Causes Mental Retardation.” The Prevention News. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2013. <>.

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