17.2.5  Preventing ID

Once ID has developed it is an irreversible condition. But several steps can be taken to prevent ID. You will be able to support these actions in your community (Box 17.2).

Box 17.2  ID prevention strategies

During pregnancy:

  • Antenatal care: good antenatal follow-up
  • Avoid medications as much as possible
  • Advise mothers to not smoke, consume alcohol or take other drugs during pregnancy
  • Prompt treatment if ill
  • As much as possible, avoid pregnancy after the age of 40 (because the risk of having a child with problems increases markedly after this)
  • Adequate nutrition
  • Having a child with ID caused by genetic or congenital problems is a risk factor, increasing the probability that subsequent pregnancies will result in similar problems. Parents should be aware of these risks.


  • Avoid trauma of the head at birth
  • Prevent asphyxia (lack of oxygen) during childbirth.

Early childhood:

  • Immunisation against common infections
  • Avoid head injury
  • Treat infections promptly
  • Provide adequate nutrition.

17.2.4  Sexual adjustment

17.3  Enuresis