Smarter Kids Become Healthier Adults

Study finds link between IQ at age 7 and later problems

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WEDNESDAY, July 21, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Smart kids are less likely to develop serious adulthood diseases than their less intelligent peers, a long-term study finds.

Harvard School of Public Health researchers surveyed 633 people in Providence, R.I., between the ages of 30 and 39 to see whether they had suffered any major illnesses. The same people had taken a comprehensive IQ test when they were 7 years old.

The illnesses asked about included heart disease, diabetes, cancer, asthma, arthritis, stroke, bleeding ulcer, tuberculosis and hepatitis.

Higher intelligence scores at age 7 were associated with lower overall risk of serious disease, even when adjusted to account for other factors. People with lower IQ scores were more likely to report serious disease.

Every extra 15 points on the intelligence score at age 7 cut the chance of illness as an adult by a third, the research found.

The researchers speculate that intelligence may reduce the likelihood of risky and unhealthy behaviors. It also could help patients navigate health-care systems and enhance their sense of personal control, which would minimize the stress response and subsequent wear and tear on the body.

The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

More information

The National Association for Gifted Children has more about childhood IQ testing.

SOURCES: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, news release, July 14, 2004

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