A gene mutation is the cause behind a common form of mental retardation, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week.

The research focuses on so-called “nonsyndromic mental retardation,” which refers to cases where individuals do not have any physical differences and where there are no clear genetic causes.

Scientists found that a gene mutation is responsible. The gene is not found in either parent, but appears first in the offspring.

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The findings could be helpful to parents who often wonder why their children have the disability. It could also lead to drugs to help people with cognitive impairment, reports The Canadian Press.