Objectives To test the association between childhood IQ and mortality over the normal human lifespan.
Design Longitudinal cohort study.
Subjects All 2792 children in Aberdeen born in 1921 and attending school on 1 June 1932 who sat a mental ability test as part of the Scottish mental survey 1932.
Main outcome measure Survival at 1 January 1997.
Results 79.9% (2230) of the sample was traced. Childhood mental ability was positively related to survival to age 76 years in women (0.978 (0.971 to 0.984), P < 0.0001) and men (0.989 (0.984 to 0.994), P< 0.0001). A 15 point disadvantage in mental ability at age 11 conferred a relative risk of 0.79 of being alive 65 years later (95% confidence interval 0.75 to 0.84); a 30 point disadvantage reduced this to 0.63 (0.56 to 0.71. However, men who died during active service in the second world war had a relatively high IQ. Overcrowding in the school catchment area was weakly related to death. Controlling for this factor did not alter the association between mental ability and mortality.
Conclusion Childhood mental ability is a significant factor among the variables that predict age at death.
- PSYCHOSOCIAL FACTORS
- COGNITIVE FUNCTION
- ADULT MORTALITY