Perinatal Etiology

The perinatal stage defines the time period surrounding the birth process (e.g., time of birth7 7 days). During this period, several obstetric complications may occur that can place a child at increased risk of having mental retardation. Perinatal factors account for approximately 20% of cases of mental retardation. These include prematurity and low birth weight. Prematurity and low birth weight are factors highly correlated with the presence of mental retardation; however, prematurity may not be the specific casual agent in and of itself. Rather, prematurity may be the outcome of several other risk factors that contribute to the manifestation of mental retardation. That is, the premature infant is born with more biological and environmental risk factors and likely will have more risks across time. Other possible perinatal complications include anoxia, breech or other atypical presentation for delivery, birth injury, or difficulty with delivery (e.g., umbilical cord entanglement).

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