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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2008 Jun;62(6):506-12. doi: 10.1136/jech.2007.059840.

Cognitive development in childhood and drinking behaviour over two decades in adulthood.

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1
UCL Institute of Child Health, Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics, 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, UK. b.jefferis@pcps.ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND/AIMS:

Childhood cognition predicts adult morbidity and mortality, potentially working through health behaviours. This study investigates if childhood cognition influences life course (i) non-drinking and (ii) binge drinking and pathways through which this might act-namely, childhood behaviour problems, adult social position and educational qualifications.

METHODS:

Prospective cohort of British births in March 1958, with information on cognition at 7, 11 and 16 years and alcohol use at 23, 33 and 42 years. Non-drinkers drank "infrequently/on special occasions" or "never". Binge drinkers consumed >or=10 units/occasion (men) and >or=7 units/occasion (women).

RESULTS:

Lower cognitive ability increased the odds of non-drinking at each adult survey (for example, for men at 42 years OR 1.52 (95% CI 1.34 to 1.72) per SD decrease in 7-year maths). Associations remained after adjustment for pathway factors (i) behaviour problems, (ii) adult social position and (iii) educational qualifications. Decreased ability rank across childhood (7-16 years) also increased odds of non-drinking at 42 years, but the association operated via pathway factors. Lower 7-year ability elevated the odds of 42-year binge drinking, operating via pathway factors. Declining ability rank across childhood also increased the odds of adult binge drinking; associations operated through behavioural problems, adult social position and qualifications. In women, the decline in risk of binge drinking from an age 23-year peak to 42 years was associated with higher 7-year score.

CONCLUSIONS:

Poorer childhood cognition was associated with non-drinking and binge drinking up to the early 40s. Associations between childhood cognition and drinking status may mediate between childhood cognition and adult health.

PMID:
18477749
DOI:
10.1136/jech.2007.059840
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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