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Brain tests at the age of THREE can predict a child's future





Brain tests at the age of THREE can predict a child's future Brain tests at the age of THREE can predict a child's future
  • The test assessed language abilities, motor skills, frustration and impulsivity
  • Those with lower scores were far more likely to commit crimes and need welfare
  • Kids with lower scores were 25% more likely to become a smoker later in life
  • These children were also 15% more likely to end up overweight as an adult
  • Findings suggest reaching these at-risk children young could turn things around

A simple test at the age of three can predict if children will grow up to be a burden on society, scientists claim.

A study has found roughly a fifth of the population are responsible for 81 per cent of criminal convictions, 77 per cent of children brought up without fathers, two-thirds of benefits claimed and more than half of nights spent in hospital.

This small group of people drain the public purse, but researchers at King’s College London say their troubled lives could be forecast from early childhood.

A simple test at the age of three can predict if children will grow up to be a burden on society, scientists claim. Decades after taking the test, children who scored low were far more likely to fall within the most burdensome group. A stock image is pictured  A simple test at the age of three can predict if children will grow up to be a burden on society, scientists claim. Decades after taking the test, children who scored low were far more likely to fall within the most burdensome group. A stock image is pictured 

A simple test at the age of three can predict if children will grow up to be a burden on society, scientists claim. Decades after taking the test, children who scored low were far more likely to fall within the most burdensome group. A stock image is pictured 

WHAT THE STUDY FOUND 

Researchers looked at more than 1,000 people born between 1972 and 1973, following them up to the age of 38.

This revealed that roughly a fifth of the population are responsible for 81 per cent of criminal convictions, 77 per cent of children brought up without fathers, two-thirds of benefits claimed and more than half of nights spent in hospital.

The results also show that children with lower brain function aged three were 38 per cent more likely to claim benefits and 22 per cent more likely to be feckless fathers. 

Their chances of being a smoker were 25 per cent higher and they were 15 per cent more likely to end up overweight.

The researchers stress that this new insight could be used to develop early intervention methods that help prevent negative outcomes.

It takes just 45 minutes to give three-year-olds a battery of tests, on their language abilities, motor skills, frustration and impulsivity.  

Decades after taking the test, children who scored low were far more likely to fall within the most burdensome group.

They were also more likely to smoke, be obese and take prescription drugs.

The findings, while controversial for indicating that someone’s life path is set in their early years, suggests reaching these at-risk children young could turn things around.

Professor Terrie Moffitt, of King’s College and Duke University in California, said: ‘About 20 per cent of the population is using the lion’s share of a wide array of public services.

‘The same people use most of the NHS, the criminal courts, the claims for disabling injury, pharmaceutical prescriptions and social welfare benefits.

‘If we stopped there, it might be fair to think these are lazy bums living off the taxpayer and exploiting the public purse.

‘But we also went further to look back into their childhoods of the people in our study, and we found that this 20 per cent began their lives with mild problems with brain function and brain health when they were very small children, at the age of three.’

She added: ‘It gives you a feeling of compassion for these people, as opposed to a feeling of blame.’

 

The study was carried out within the New Zealand population, as there are ‘barriers’ to accessing birth studies to compare with state records in the UK. 

Researchers looked at more than 1,000 people born between 1972 and 1973, following them up to the age of 38.

The results show children with lower brain function aged three were 38 per cent more likely to claim benefits and 22 per cent more likely to be feckless fathers. 

Their chances of being a smoker were 25 per cent higher and they were 15 per cent more likely to end up overweight.

The study has found roughly a fifth of the population are responsible for 81 per cent of criminal convictions, 77 per cent of children brought up without fathers, two-thirds of benefits claimed and more than half of nights spent in hospital The study has found roughly a fifth of the population are responsible for 81 per cent of criminal convictions, 77 per cent of children brought up without fathers, two-thirds of benefits claimed and more than half of nights spent in hospital

The study has found roughly a fifth of the population are responsible for 81 per cent of criminal convictions, 77 per cent of children brought up without fathers, two-thirds of benefits claimed and more than half of nights spent in hospital

This is based on four key tests, including the Peabody picture vocabulary test asking children to name images, and the Reynell test of speech, asking them to describe pictures in more depth.

Children’s motor skills were checked by asking them to walk in a straight line or stand on one leg. 

But crucially, during these tests, children were monitored for how well they managed their emotions while carrying out stressful tasks, including their frustration, restlessness, impulsivity and persistence.

Explaining the results, co-author Professor Avshalom Caspi, of King’s College and Duke’s University, said: ‘Essentially these children were functioning like a two-and-a-half year-old, they were six months behind.

‘For these individuals, life is really an uphill battle, opportunities are limited and mastering new skills is not easy. These early difficulties have a snowballing effect.’

The findings, while controversial for indicating that someone¿s life path is set in their early years, suggests reaching these at-risk children young could turn things around The findings, while controversial for indicating that someone¿s life path is set in their early years, suggests reaching these at-risk children young could turn things around

The findings, while controversial for indicating that someone’s life path is set in their early years, suggests reaching these at-risk children young could turn things around

The finding that many of these children become the ’20 per cent’ most costly for society is based on the ‘Pareto principle,’ which is also called the 80-20 rule.

Italian engineer and social scientist Vilfredo Pareto observed a century ago that 80 percent of wealth is controlled by 20 percent of the population and that this proportion applies to many other areas of life.

Josh Hillman, director of education at the Nuffield Foundation, which was not involved in the research, said the 20 per cent should be helped early in life.

He called for disadvantaged children to be signed up to nursery school with qualified teachers from an early age, adding: ‘These are the children who stand to benefit the most from the support of the education system.

‘These are the children you can make the most difference with, in terms of the children themselves and the payback for the public purse.’ 

 

 

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Bernice Billingslea
Bernice Billingslea

Bernice has over 6+ years of writing experience in press releases, feature articles, promotions, copywriting for small businesses and manufacturers in various industries. She brings a wealth of experience and is the "calmer" when these is a storm. She loves to travel and read.

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