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IQ is a better predictor of future wealth for kids born prematurely

A new study has revealed that testing IQ and ensuring that children who are born prematurely get enough support in school can improve financial stability and success in adulthood.

Around 15 million babies are born preterm every year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. When it comes to predicting the economic success of children born preterm, it was previously assumed that math skills were a key indicator.

However, researchers from the University of Warwick found that IQ, not math skills, is an accurate predictor of adults wealth.

The researchers detailed their contradictory findings in a new long-term study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

“Considering preterm and low-birthweight individuals’ multiple neurocognitive difficulties, our results suggest that IQ is a more significant predictor of adult wealth than the ability to solve specific math problems,” said Julia Jaekel, a co-author of the study.

The researchers followed more than 400 children from Germany up through adulthood. 193 children in the study were born preterm or had a low birth weight.

When the children were eight years old, standardized tests were used to gauge math skills and intelligence.

At 26, the researchers reviewed data on income, education, career success, and social benefits and created a comprehensive wealth index.

The team then used the assessments from age eight to find any predictors of adult wealth and economic success. IQ was deemed to be the best indicator for wealth at 26.

The study shows that the cognitive impairments of children born preterm can have long-term impacts and negatively affect earning potential as an adult.

“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 Dieter Wolke, a fellow co-author of the study. “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.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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