New York, March 15 (IANS) Parents, take note. A new study has found that IQ rather than the ability to solve math problems is a better indicator of adult economic success for preterm and low-weight babies.
The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, are in contrast with previous evidence suggesting the specific importance of math skills for economic achievement.
"Considering preterm and low-birthweight individuals' multiple neurocognitive difficulties, our results suggest that IQ is a more significant predictor of adult wealth...," said co-author Julia Jaekel, Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
For the study, the team followed more than 400 children from birth through adulthood. Of the children in the study, 193 were born very preterm (under 32 weeks gestation) or with very low birth weight (less than 3.3 pounds) and 217 were healthy term babies.
Using standardised tests, psychologists assessed general intelligence and specific math skills of the children at eight-year old. When the subjects reached age 26, information on their income, social benefits, educational qualifications, and career success were summarised into a comprehensive wealth index.
The researchers tested whether math abilities or IQ explained the negative consequences of very premature birth on adult wealth. They concluded that IQ was a better predictor of life course economic success.
"No matter whether their difficulties are global or specific, many very preterm and very low birthweight individuals require continued educational support in order to succeed in school and life," said co-author Dieter Wolke, Professor at the University of Warwick.
"Our findings can inform the design of follow-up and intervention services to reduce the burden of prematurity for those individuals who were born at highest neonatal risk," Wolke added.