Contrary to expectations, higher intelligence scores at age 10 may be associated with higher levels of alcohol intake and alcohol-related drinking problems during adulthood, study findings suggest.
Moreover, these associations appear “markedly stronger among women than among men,” Dr. G. David Batty, from the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and colleagues report in the American Journal of Public Health.
However, “given that these findings ran counter to our expectations,” the investigators call for further examination of this relationship.
Batty’s team assessed associations between mental ability scores obtained when 8170 boys and girls were 10 years old and their alcohol intake and alcohol problems when they were about 30 years old.
Of the 3895 men and 4148 women who reported drinking alcohol as adults, those with higher average scores on childhood mental ability tests were also more likely to have indications of alcohol problems in adulthood.
The association between higher mental ability in childhood and adulthood problem drinking became stronger among women than among men after allowing for socioeconomic factors such as social class during both childhood and adulthood.
Specifically, for every 15-point increase in childhood mental ability score, the likelihood of drinking problems increased 1.38 times for women, and 1.17 times for men. These unexpected findings, and the lack of other research in this area, indicate the need for “further examination of the relation between childhood IQ and adult drinking patterns,” the investigators conclude.
Source: Childhood Mental Ability and Adult Alcohol Intake and Alcohol Problems: The 1970 British Cohort Study Am J Public Health, Oct 2008; doi:10.2105/AJPH.2007.109488