Thursday, November 25, 2010

health and IQ

In Mozambique, one in 11 children dies within the first year of life. One in seven dies within five years. The numbers are even higher in rural areas.Children here battle deadly diseases, like malaria, HIV, and conditions like diarrhea, and often lose the fight.

A new study suggests the babies who do survive face an additional lifelong challenge: lower intelligence. The study concludes that babies who use their body's energy to fight disease will not have enough energy left to fully develop their brains.

Christopher Eppig, a graduate student at the University of New Mexico, authored the study, explained:
"I like to think of this in terms of sort of economics. So, the body has a finite amount of physical energy that it can spend in a limited number of areas. As a child at a younger age than 5, one estimate shows the brain occupying more than half of the body's entire energy budget. And at newborn -- as a newborn, that number may be as high as 87 percent. And another expensive thing that the body does is fights off infectious disease. And so, like any kind of budget, if you have a limited amount of funds, if you take money out of one area, it has to come from somewhere.The structure and the size of our brain is what gives us our intelligence. And, so, exposure to disease early in childhood can affect the way the brain is built, the way it's structured. And throughout your adult life, you can be left with a brain that wasn't built quite correctly."

Eppig found that countries with the highest levels of infectious disease also had the lowest average I.Q.s. Researchers matched I.Q. estimates of 192 countries against 28 infectious diseases listed by the World Health Organization. The study controlled for other potential factors in a nation's average I.Q. factors like quality and access to education, annual income levels, and even climate. And while those factors play a role, researchers found infectious disease to be the most powerful predictor of I.Q. Mozambique, which ranks at the bottom of I.Q. scores, also tops the charts in disease burden.

The study basically says that, if you fight infectious disease, that you will raise I.Q. of a nation. If this proposition is true, by fighting infectious diseases, you bring up the I.Q. of a nation,

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