Fighting Isn't Smart

Fighting related injury may lead to a reduction in IQ

(RxWiki News) Fighting could have much more serious consequences than a trip to the principal's office or a few days of suspension. It actually may affect a teen's intelligence.

A recent study found that having one fighting-related injury was associated with a significant drop in IQ for teens. This drop in IQ was found to be even greater for females than for males.

"Talk to your kids about other ways to resolve conflicts."

This study was led by Joseph Schwartz, MA, in the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University. The research team examined whether there was an association between serious fighting-related injuries in adolescence and changes in IQ over a five- to six-year time period.

The researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) that was collected at three time points: 1994, 1995-1996 and 2001-2002. There were over 20,000 participants between the ages of 12 and 21 at the beginning of the study.

Twice during the study, participants were asked how many times they had been in a physical fight where they were injured and had to be treated by a doctor or nurse in the past 12 months.

IQ was also measured twice using the Picture Vocabulary Test, a shortened version of the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised.

Several factors were taken into account when looking at the study findings including: age, race, sex, and changes in socioeconomic status. After taking these factors into account, the researchers found that one serious fighting-related injury was associated with a significant drop in IQ.

For males, it was found that having two serious fighting-related injuries was associated with a 3.24-point drop in IQ, which is comparable to missing an entire year of school. For females, only one serious fighting-related injury was associated with a drop in IQ (3.02 points) comparable to missing one year of school.

The study authors concluded that fighting-related injuries have a significant effect on IQ, which may be even more pronounced for females.

This study is currently in press and will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The authors reported no competing interests.

Review Date: 
July 29, 2013