Understanding Mental Retardation And Its Effects On Children Affected By It

Mental retardation is little understood

Craniofacial features associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.   Image via Wikipedia

Like Autism it seems that cases of children born with mental retardation is on the rise. Add to this the numbers of children born with fetal alcohol syndrome and the numbers of mental retardation identified in children can seem to rise to almost staggering proportions.

What is Mental Retardation?

Mental retardation (MR) is a developmental disability that first appears in children under the age of 18.

Mental Retardation is defined as a level of intellectual functioning (as measured by standard intelligence tests ) that is well below average and results in significant limitations in the child with mental retardation ‘s daily living skills (adaptive functioning).

There are many signs of mental retardation.

For example, children with mental retardation may:

  • sit up, crawl, or walk later than other children;
  • learn to talk later
  • or have trouble speaking
  • find it hard to remember things
  • not understand how to pay for things
  • have trouble understanding social rules
  • have trouble seeing the consequences of their actions
  • have trouble solving problems, and/or
  • have trouble thinking logically.

Causes of Mental Retardation

  • Genetic – Mongolism.
  • NutritionalIodine deficiency / poor gestational nutrition.
  • Obstetrical birth injuries of head – poor APGAR score at birth.
  • Some infections of brain – tubercular meningitis, viral (rubella), protozoal (toxoplasma) etc.
  • Severe dehydration – High grade fever in childhood can cause irreversible injuries.
  • Head injuries.
  • Poor social environment Assessment is done by mental aging, psychological scoring and I.Q. testing. Treatment

Mental Retardation in Children:- It is difficult to treat cases of Allopathy.

As such there are no medicines currently available for the treatment of mental retardation, other than nutritional support. Ayurveda does offer some medicines like Acorus calamus, Celastrus peniculus, Bacopa monnieri to help children and adults. But their efficacy is not uniform for sufferers of mental retardation and success rate is poor in cases of childhood mental retardation.

Homeopathic Treatments For Mental Retardation in Children

Homeopathy some degree of uniform success rate in the treatment of children with mental retardation. There are several studies that seem to indicate that nutritional support for childhood cases of mental retardation may actually cause some patients with apparent mental retardation to show some improvement, some cases of mental retardation may even actually show marked improvement. However many of these studies of nutritional support in cases of childhood mental retardation have not been proven in double blind studies, so any sources claiming t show substantial improvement in cases of childhood mental retardation should be suspect, until proven.

This naturalistic approach claims that; the improvement reported in cases of childhood mental retardation seems to start within 1 to 2 months and can achieve the highest recoverable mental potential in children with mild to moderate mental retardation within 1 year of treatment. These herbal medicines are reported to repair glial damage and promote dendritic connections in children with mental retardation, which appears to improve neuronal set ups to higher level of functioning.

Effects of Mental Retardation

Children who are identified with mental retardation in early childhood show the best chances for a more normal life than children with mental retardation is not recognized until a later age. This is because children who are identified early on can be started on a treatment program sooner than other children with mental retardation. Numerous therapies for mental retardation exist and are tailored to the cause or type of mental retardation identified.

At one time children with various stages of mental retardation were hidden away from society or placed into special “homes” for mental retardation cases. This shutting away of patients with mental retardation is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, as more and more treatment and retraining options are developed to help children identified with mental retardation.

Some children with mental retardation may actually be able to live somewhat regular lives due to early intervention and treatment of mental retardation. While other children identified with severe forms of mental retardation may need to be monitored closely throughout their entire lives.

It is clear however that as we learn more about the causes and develop more effective treatment options for children and adults with mental retardation, more children and adults with the disorder may be able to live more normal lives.


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