How quickly children pick up language skills may help predict their IQ in middle age, a new Danish study suggests.
The researchers found a significant association between IQ test results at age 50 and the speed at which participants achieved a number of developmental milestones in childhood.
“Most studies of the relationship between the speed of early language development and intelligence later in life have used a short time span, so the possible lifelong associations between them have hardly been explored,” said study author Trine Flensborg-Madsen, of the University of Copenhagen.
By contrast, the follow-up for this study was 50 years, Flensborg-Madsen said in a news release from the British Psychological Society.
The study included nearly 1,000 people born in Copenhagen between 1959 and 1961, and followed throughout their lives. Results of an IQ test at age 50 were compared with their assessments from childhood.
Kids who could name objects/animals in pictures, form a sentence, and share experiences more quickly than other children tended to have a higher IQ in middle age, the study found.
Further analysis showed that language-related milestones explained 6.7 percent of variation in midlife IQ, while social interaction milestones explained 3.1 percent.
However, the study can’t prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship, so parents shouldn’t worry that their late bloomer is doomed to fall behind.
The study results were published Nov. 22 in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology.
The U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has more on speech and language developmental milestones.
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