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Childhood IQ and life course socioeconomic position in relation to alcohol induced hangovers in adulthood: the Aberdeen children of the 1950s study


Objective: To examine the association between scores on IQ tests in childhood and alcohol induced hangovers in middle aged men and women.

Design, Setting, and Participants: A cohort of 12 150 people born in Aberdeen (Scotland) who took part in a school based survey in 1962 when IQ test scores were extracted from educational records. Between 2000 and 2003, 7184 (64%) responded to questionnaire inquiries regarding drinking behaviour.

Main outcome measures: Self reported hangovers attributable to alcohol consumption on two or more occasions per month.

Results: Higher IQ scores at 11 years of age were associated with a lower prevalence of hangovers in middle age (ORper one SD advantage in IQ score; 95% CI: 0.80; 0.72, 0.89). This relation was little affected by adjustment for childhood indicators of socioeconomic position (0.82; 0.74, 0.91) but was considerably attenuated after control for adult variables (fully adjusted model: 0.89; 0.79, 1.01).

Conclusions: Higher childhood IQ was related to a lower prevalence of alcohol induced hangovers in middle aged men and women. The IQ-hangover effect may at least partially explain the link between early life IQ and adult mortality. This being the first study to examine this relation, more evidence is required.

  • alcohol
  • binge drinking
  • hangover
  • IQ
  • socioeconomic position

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