Smart Kids Less Clumsy As Adults, Study Suggests

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A lack of intelligence can really hurt you.

Adults who were smart children apparently are less likely to be hospitalized for accidental injuries than those who did not do as well on childhood intelligence tests, according to a study in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

British researchers drew that conclusion after studying hospital admissions among 11,282 people in Scotland who took part in a child-development study in the 1950s and '60s. Back then, intelligence tests were routinely given to Scottish children at ages 7, 9 and 11.

Adults who had scored lower on the childhood IQ tests were more likely to be among the 1,043 who wound up in the hospital at least once with accidental injuries, the study found. The link between intelligence scores and injury risk later in life held up even after controlling for socioeconomic factors.

Education made a difference, however. The link between intelligence and injury risk weakened the more educated a person was, researchers found.

"This might mean that improvements in education could result in lower injury rates in adulthood," said Debbie Lawlor, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Bristol and lead author of the study.

The researchers offered several possible explanations for the connection between intelligence and injury risk. Children who score poorly on intelligence tests typically leave school earlier than their counterparts, making them more likely to end up in a job with a risk of physical injury. Also, less-intelligent children are more likely to suffer injuries in childhood; in the case of head injuries, that may make them more prone to accidents as adults.

Finally, it may be that children with low intelligence become adults who simply cannot process information from their surroundings to avoid injury as well as their more intelligent counterparts.

-- Christopher Lee

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