Mental retardation primary prevention

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Prevention

  • Genetic: Prenatal screening for genetic defects and genetic counseling for families at risk for known inherited disorders can decrease the risk of inherited mental retardation.
  • Social: Government nutrition programs are available to poor children in the first and most critical years of life. These programs can reduce retardation associated with malnutrition. Early intervention in situations involving abuse and poverty will also help.
  • Toxic: Environmental programs to reduce exposure to lead, mercury, and other toxins will reduce toxin-associated retardation. However, the benefits may take years to become apparent. Increased public awareness of the risks of alcohol and drugs during pregnancy can help reduce the incidence of retardation.
  • Infectious: The prevention of congenital rubella syndrome is probably one of the best examples of a successful program to prevent one form of mental retardation. Constant vigilance, such as limiting exposure to cat litter that can cause toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, helps reduce retardation that results from this infection.

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