Early Impulsivity May Predict Future Gambling

Inattentiveness, distractibility and hyperactivity at age 5 linked to gambling in sixth grade

TUESDAY, Mar. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Impulsive kindergartners may be more likely to become regular gamblers by sixth grade, according to research published in the March issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Linda S. Pagani, M.D., of the University of Montreal in Quebec, Canada, and colleagues studied 163 children from intact families during kindergarten (mean age, 5.5) and again during sixth grade (mean age, 11.5).

The researchers found that each one-unit increase in kindergarten impulsivity was associated with a 25 percent increase in self-reported gambling in sixth grade. They also found that this association was independent of confounding factors, including parental gambling.

"Our results suggest that behavioral features such as inattentiveness, distractibility and hyperactivity at school entry represent a vulnerability factor for precocious risk-oriented behavior like gambling in sixth grade," the authors conclude. "It is very plausible that these childhood characteristics snowball into cumulative risks for youngsters who do not eventually outgrow the distractibility and inattentiveness from early childhood and become involved in gambling as a typical pastime for many youth. Most importantly, our observations suggest a developmentally continuous effect of impulsivity that places individuals on a life course trajectory toward gambling involvement in adolescence and emerging adulthood."

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