Impact of Specific Medical Interventions on Reducing the Prevalence of Mental Retardation

The effect of medical interventions on the reduction of mental retardation (MR) in the United States between 1950 and 2000 was examined in the present study. The general prevalence of MR was compared to the prevalence of case-specific MR for seven medical conditions such as congenital syphilis and measles in populations of school-aged children. Epidemiological data was collected through the review of medical literature.

Key Findings:

  • In 1950, 16.5 percent of MR cases were attributable to one of the seven medical conditions reviewed in the study.
  • By 2000, the percentage of MR cases accounted for by one of the seven medical conditions focused on in the study was 0.005 percent.
  • Medical interventions for specific conditions have included screening pregnant women, use of antibiotics and vaccines.
  • Despite the efficacy of medical interventions in reducing condition-specific MR over the years, medical conditions actually represent a small percentage of MR cases. As such, the effect of medical interventions on the general prevalence of MR has been limited.