Infant Development Predicts Later Cognitive Function

Study reports that early developers score higher, though effect is small

THURSDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- The age at which developmental milestones are reached appears to have a small but significant association with subsequent cognitive function, according to a report published online in the July issue of the Annals of Neurology.

Graham Murray, M.D., from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed survey data from a nationally representative cohort of 5,362 U.K. children born in 1946. Linear and logistic regression were used to explore the association between age of attainment of developmental milestones and subsequent intellectual function and educational achievement.

The researchers detected a small, but statistically significant association between the age of reaching milestones and later intellectual function measured at ages 8, 26 and 53. Each month earlier a child learned to stand was associated with a gain of half an IQ point at age 8. Speech development also appeared to have a small effect on educational level achieved, with late talkers less likely to obtain advanced education. Motor development was not correlated with educational level achieved.

"The association between later development and poorer subsequent intellectual function is small, but it does have theoretical implications; we suggest it is secondary to suboptimal cortical-subcortical connectivity," the authors conclude.

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