According to modern scientific ideas, the concept of “mental retardation” has a collective meaning, which combines the most different in their origin forms of pathology of mental activity.
These forms include mental retardation, brain damage associated with genetic, organic, intoxication, and other causes. There are several various forms due to the influence of adverse social and cultural factors: improper upbringing, educational neglect, negative somatic and psychogenic influence, vision and hearing defects.
Any adverse activity affecting the body, not finished its formation, physiological growth, can lead to total or partial delay its development. Long and strong enough pathological effects on the immature brain may lead to deviations in its differentiation and, consequently, to disturbances in the mental development of the child.
Severity of mental retardation depend on the duration of exposure to damaging adverse biological and social factors, the location and extent of the disease process, as well as its intensity. Mental retardation is characterized by a number of common clinical signs. Leading sign is general underdevelopment of all complex forms of mental activity. In this pathological condition – congenital or acquired before the age of 3 years old – the most affected are intelligence, thinking, perception, memory, attention, language, motor and emotional-volitional sphere.
The main causes of mental retardation are the irregular formation or damage of the brain in the early stages of its development. Therefore, the distinction between mental retardation and acquired dementia is that mental retardation is not a decrease in mental functions due to mental illness, but their initial underdevelopment. In cases of acquired dementia, painful disorder of mental activity occurs in fully capable person, and during the examination the patient can demonstrate the remnants of the old skills and knowledge. People with dementia have more developed speech skills, the capability of abstract thinking is higher, there is a sharp discrepancy between the interests and aspirations of the patient to the development of dementia and thereafter.
In mental retardation, the most significant are psychogenic disorder suffers, which block normal human development. Damage the brain, caused mental retardation, may be stipulated by various factors acting on the embryo and fetus in utero, during delivery or in the postnatal development.
Different kind of intoxication, illness of the mother during pregnancy, injuries fetus in utero and birth can be a cause of mental retardation. The most common causes of mental retardation are severe neurological infection, traumatic brain injury.
Mental retardation is common among people around the world, depending on various reasons to assume that it affects 1% to 5 % of people.
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