IQ in childhood and atherosclerosis in middle-age: 40 year follow-up of the newcastle thousand families cohort study

Beverly A. Roberts*, G. David Batty, Catharine R. Gale, Ian J. Deary, Louise Parker, Mark S. Pearce

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Objective: Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) is a known precursor to coronary heart disease (CHD) and other relevant health outcomes such as stroke and cognitive impairment. In addition, higher childhood intelligence has been associated with lower risk of coronary heart disease events in later life, although the mechanisms of effect are unclear. We therefore examined the association between childhood intelligence and atherosclerosis using carotid IMT as a marker of the atherosclerotic process.

Approach: Participants were 412 members of the Newcastle Thousand Families Study, a prospective cohort study of all 1142 births in the city of Newcastle in May and June 1947, who took an IQ test and English and arithmetic tests at age 11 years. Study members participated in a medical examination and lifestyle assessment at age 49-51 years during which IMT was measured using ultrasound techniques.

Results: Individuals with higher childhood IQ score had a lower mean IMT in middle-age. A standard deviation higher score in childhood overall IQ was associated with a 0.053 mm (95% CI -0.102, -0.004) lower IMT in men and a 0.039 mm (95% CI -0.080, -0.002) lower IMT in women. Similar levels of association were found for the English and arithmetic tests. After adjustment for a range of covariates including education, the size of effect was undiminished in men but increased in women.

Conclusions: In the present study, higher childhood IQ scores were associated with a lower degree of atherosclerosis by middle-age. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-237
Number of pages4
Issue number2
Early online date2 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • childhood IQ
  • atherosclerosis
  • intima-media thickness
  • cognitive epidemiology
  • coronary-heart-disease
  • premature mortality
  • 1970 British cohort
  • Vietnam experience
  • risk factors
  • carotid atherosclerosis
  • cardiovascular disease
  • Aberdeen children
  • early adulthood


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