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MONDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Children with high IQs live longer, but it is not clear exactly what role IQ plays in longevity, new British research shows.
Previous studies have shown an association between IQ and mortality, but an explanation for that has proved elusive. This is an important question because identifying those mechanisms would help in understanding the origins of health inequalities, the researchers said.
"The IQ-mortality association emerges already early in adult life, even when most life-threatening diseases are not yet that common," said lead researcher Markus Jokela, who is now with the department of psychology at the University of Helsinki, in Finland. "So the role of IQ is not only restricted to how people become ill or cope with their illnesses in old age."
The report is published in the Aug. 10 online edition of Pediatrics.
For the study, Jokela's team collected data on 10,620 men and women who participated in the 1958 British Birth Cohort Study and had their IQs tested when they were 11. Researchers followed these individuals until they were 46 years old.
The investigators found that IQ assessed in childhood at age 11 predicted mortality risk from age 11 to age 46, so that the risk of dying by midlife was about two times higher in individuals with low IQs compared to those with high IQs (3.4 percent versus 1.7 percent, respectively).
This association was largely independent of several measures of childhood developmental characteristics and family background such as birth weight, childhood height at age 11, problem behavior, father's occupation, parents' interest in child's education, family size and family difficulties, Jokela said.
Adult sociodemographic variables such as education, occupation, marital status and health behaviors such as smoking, weight, alcoh
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