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Dev Med Child Neurol. 1997 Mar;39(3):142-9.

Reported biomedical causes and associated medical conditions for mental retardation among 10-year-old children, metropolitan Atlanta, 1985 to 1987.

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Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


This report describes biomedical causes of mental retardation (MR) among school-age children and associated medical conditions in children for whom no cause was reported. This study involved 715, 10-year-old children with MR (intelligence quotient [IQ] 70 or less) born between 1975 and 1977. We determined biomedical causes of MR using a hierarchical approach based on the timing of the event (i.e. prenatal, perinatal, or postneonatal). Among children with no identified biomedical cause the occurrence of associated medical conditions was examined. No reported biomedical cause could be found in 78% of children with MR (87% mild, IQ 50 to 70; 57% severe, IQ < 50). Prenatal causes were present in 12%, perinatal causes in 6%, and postneonatal causes in 4%. On the basis of these findings it was concluded that intensive use of public health prevention strategies can reduce the number of children who receive a diagnosis of MR.

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