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12 March 2004

Causes of intellectual disability

Intellectual disability is the most common form of disability there is. It affects one out of every hundred people in differing degrees, one of whom will be significantly disabled.

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Intellectual disability is the most common form of disability there is. It affects one out of every hundred people in differing degrees, one of whom will be significantly disabled.

More than 200 possible causes of intellectual disability have been identified but in some cases, no clear cause can be found.

Intellectual disability can be caused by:

  • Factors influencing the unborn baby, such as hereditary factors, excessive smoking or drinking by the expectant mother, abuse of chemicals/drugs, exposure to too much radiation/X-rays
  • RH-factor – the blood of the mother and the baby are incompatible (e.g. the mother is RH-negative and the baby is RH-positive)
  • living in deprived conditions, malnutrition
  • complications during pregnancy
  • untreated infections, illness and disease, such as German Measles, Meningitis, Diabetes, Syphilis, AIDS hypertension, jaundice, tuberculosis, encephalitis
  • brain injury as a result of falling, physical abuse or road accidents

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