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Early Childhood Nutrition May Influence Adult IQ

childA recent report finds adults who had improved nutrition in early childhood may score better on intellectual tests, regardless of the number of years they attended school.

The study is found in the July issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

“Schooling is a key component of the development of literacy, reading comprehension and cognitive functioning, and thus of human capital,” the authors write as background information in the article.

Research also suggests that poor nutrition in early life is associated with poor performance on cognitive (thinking, learning and memory) tests in adulthood.

“Therefore, both nutrition and early-childhood intellectual enrichment are likely to be important determinants of intellectual functioning in adulthood.”

Between 1969 and 1977, Guatemalan children in four villages participated in a trial of nutritional supplementation. Through the trial, some were exposed to atole—a protein-rich enhanced nutritional supplement—while others were exposed to fresco, a sugar-sweetened beverage.

Aryeh D. Stein, M.P.H., Ph.D., of the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from intellectual testing and interviews conducted between 2002 and 2004, when 1,448 surviving participants (68.4 percent) were an average of 32 years old.

Individuals exposed to atole between birth and age 24 months scored higher on intellectual tests of reading comprehension and cognitive functioning in adulthood than those not exposed to atole or who were exposed to it at other ages.

This association remained significant when the researchers controlled for other factors associated with intellectual functioning, including years of schooling.

“Nutrition in early life is associated with markers of child development in this population, and exposure to atole for most of the first three years of life was associated with an increase of 0.4 years in attained schooling, with the association being stronger for females (1.2 years of schooling),” the authors write.

“Thus, schooling might be in the causal pathway between early childhood nutrition and adult intellectual functioning.”

“Our data, which suggest an effect of exposure to an enhanced nutritional intervention in early life that is independent of any effect of schooling, provide additional evidence in support of intervention strategies that link early investments in children to continued investments in early-life nutrition and in schooling,” they conclude.

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Early Childhood Nutrition May Influence Adult IQ

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Early Childhood Nutrition May Influence Adult IQ. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 19, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/07/08/early-childhood-nutrition-may-influence-adult-iq/2570.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.