- Najja Parker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Doctors always record the weight of babies when they’re born. Parents may want to pay attention to the size of their heads, too, because it could indicate their intelligence later in life, according to a study.
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Researchers from universities in Europe conducted an experiment, published in Molecular Psychiatry, to determine if there was a correlation between head size and cognitive functions.
To do so, they used data from U.K. Biobank, a health resource that stores data from more than 500,000 locals aged 37 to 73. They examined blood, urine and saliva samples from people assessed from 2006 to 2010. The subjects also underwent cognitive and physical assessments.
After analyzing the results, they found that those with larger infant head circumferences were smarter. In fact, they had “higher scores on verbal-numerical reasoning” tests and were significantly more likely to get a university degree.
“Highly significant associations were observed between the cognitive test scores in the UK Biobank sample and many polygenic profile scores, including, ... intracranial volume, infant head circumference and childhood cognitive ability,” the researchers wrote.
Researchers also noted better overall health for those with larger heads.
“These results indicate that even in healthy individuals, being at high polygenic risk for coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure is associated with lower cognitive function and lower educational attainment,” they said.
While the researchers said it is not possible to fully discuss the implications of their conclusions, they believe their findings are promising.
“These results,” they said, “should stimulate further research that will be informative about the specific genetic mechanisms of the associations found here, which likely involves both protective and detrimental effects of different genetic variants.”