Predictors of intelligence at the age of 5: family, pregnancy and birth characteristics, postnatal influences, and postnatal growth

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Hanne-Lise Falgreen Eriksen, Ulrik Schiøler Kesmodel, Mette Underbjerg, Tina Røndrup Kilburn, Jacquelyn Bertrand, Erik Lykke Mortensen

Parental education and maternal intelligence are well-known predictors of child IQ. However, the literature regarding other factors that may contribute to individual differences in IQ is inconclusive. The aim of this study was to examine the contribution of a number of variables whose predictive status remain unclarified, in a sample of basically healthy children with a low rate of pre- and postnatal complications. 1,782 5-year-old children sampled from the Danish National Birth Cohort (2003-2007) were assessed with a short form of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence - Revised. Information on parental characteristics, pregnancy and birth factors, postnatal influences, and postnatal growth was collected during pregnancy and at follow-up. A model including study design variables and child's sex explained 7% of the variance in IQ, while parental education and maternal IQ increased the explained variance to 24%. Other predictors were parity, maternal BMI, birth weight, breastfeeding, and the child's head circumference and height at follow-up. These variables, however, only increased the explained variance to 29%. The results suggest that parental education and maternal IQ are major predictors of IQ and should be included routinely in studies of cognitive development. Obstetrical and postnatal factors also predict IQ, but their contribution may be of comparatively limited magnitude.
Original languageEnglish
JournalP L o S One
Volume8
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)e79200
ISSN1932-6203
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

ID: 74178575