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Childhood IQ and cardiovascular disease in adulthood: prospective observational study linking the Scottish Mental Survey 1932 and the Midspan studies


  • Hart, C. L.
  • Taylor, M. D.
  • Smith, G. Davey
  • Whalley, L. J.
  • Starr, J. M.
  • Hole, D. J.
  • Wilson, V.
  • Deary, I. J.


This study investigated the influence of childhood IQ on the relationships between risk factors and cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke in adulthood. Participants were from the Midspan prospective cohort studies which were conducted on adults in Scotland in the 1970s. Data on risk factors were collected from a questionnaire and at a screening examination, and participants were followed up for 25 years for hospital admissions and mortality. 938 Midspan participants were successfully matched with their age 11 IQ from the Scottish Mental Survey 1932, in which 1921-born children attending schools in Scotland took a cognitive ability test. Childhood IQ was negatively correlated with diastolic and systolic blood pressure, and positively correlated with height and respiratory function in adulthood. For each of CVD, CHD and stroke, defined as either a hospital admission or death, there was an increased relative rate per standard deviation decrease (15 points) in childhood IQ of 1.11 (95% confidence interval 1.01-1.23), 1.16 (1.03-1.32) and 1.10 (0.88-1.36), respectively. With events divided into those first occurring before and those first occurring after the age of 65, the relationships between childhood IQ and CVD, CHD and stroke were only seen before age 65 and not after age 65. Blood pressure, height, respiratory function and smoking were associated with CVD events. Relationships were stronger in the early compared to the later period for smoking and FEV1, and stronger in the later compared to the earlier period for blood pressure. Adjustment for childhood IQ had small attenuating effects on the risk factor-CVD relationship before age 65 and no effects after age 65. Adjustment for risk factors attenuated the childhood IQ-CVD relationship by a small amount before age 65. Childhood IQ was associated with CVD risk factors and events and can be considered an important new risk factor.

Suggested Citation

  • Hart, C. L. & Taylor, M. D. & Smith, G. Davey & Whalley, L. J. & Starr, J. M. & Hole, D. J. & Wilson, V. & Deary, I. J., 2004. "Childhood IQ and cardiovascular disease in adulthood: prospective observational study linking the Scottish Mental Survey 1932 and the Midspan studies," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(10), pages 2131-2138, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:59:y:2004:i:10:p:2131-2138

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    Cited by:

    1. Mackenbach, Johan P., 2012. "The persistence of health inequalities in modern welfare states: The explanation of a paradox," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(4), pages 761-769.
    2. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Modin, Bitte, 2013. "Economic Conditions at Birth, Birth Weight, Ability, and the Causal Path to Cardiovascular Mortality," IZA Discussion Papers 7605, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Robert Kaestner & Kevin Callison, 2011. "Adolescent Cognitive and Noncognitive Correlates of Adult Health," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(1), pages 29-69.
    4. Hemmingsson, Tomas & Essen, Jan v. & Melin, Bo & Allebeck, Peter & Lundberg, Ingvar, 2007. "The association between cognitive ability measured at ages 18-20 and coronary heart disease in middle age among men: A prospective study using the Swedish 1969 conscription cohort," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(7), pages 1410-1419, October.
    5. repec:eee:intell:v:62:y:2017:i:c:p:79-88 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Murasko, Jason E., 2013. "Physical growth and cognitive skills in early-life: Evidence from a nationally representative US birth cohort," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 267-277.
    7. Kroenke, Candyce, 2008. "Socioeconomic status and health: Youth development and neomaterialist and psychosocial mechanisms," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 31-42, January.


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