Childhood mental ability in relation to cause-specific accidents in adulthood: the 1970 British Cohort study

G. D. Batty, I. J. Deary, I. Schoon, C. R. Gale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Few data link childhood mental ability (IQ) with risk of accidents, and most published studies have methodological limitations.

Aim: To examine the relationship between scores from a battery of mental ability tests taken in childhood, and self-reported accidents between the ages of 16 and 30 years.

Methods: In the British Cohort study, a sample of 8172 cohort members born in Great Britain in 1970 had complete data for IQ score assessed at 10 years of age and accident data self-reported at age 30 years.

Results: The relationship between childhood IQ score and later risk of accident was complex, differing according to sex and the type of accident under consideration. Women with higher childhood IQ were more likely than those with lower scores to report having had an accident(s) while at work, in a vehicle, engaging in sports, and in unspecified circumstances. Adjustment for markers of socioeconomic position weakened or eliminated some of these relations, but higher childhood IQ remained associated with increased risk of sporting and unspecified accidents. Men with higher childhood IQ scores were less likely than those with lower scores to report accidents at work, but more likely to report accidents at home, playing sports or in unspecified circumstances. After adjustment for socioeconomic circumstances, higher childhood IQ in men remained associated with an increased risk of accidents at home or in unspecified circumstances.

Discussion: The relationship between childhood mental ability and accidents in adulthood is complex. As in other studies, socioeconomic position has an inconsistent relationship with non-fatal accident type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-414
Number of pages10
JournalQJM: An International Journal of Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007




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