Serious Injuries from Fights Lead to IQ Loss in Kids

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Adolescents who receive serious injuries from fights may experience something even worse than the sting of defeat: a significant drop in their IQ.

The first-of-its-kind report, recently published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, draws connections between fight-related injuries and IQ deficiencies, suggesting teen boys who are seriously injured as a result of participating in as few as two brawls may see their IQ lowered by the equivalent of missing an entire year of school. And researchers say girls face a similar loss in IQ after sustaining serious injuries in only one fight.


In a press release issued by FSU, researcher Joseph Schwartz said the findings were unexpected.


“It’s no surprise that being severely physically injured results in negative repercussions,” he said. “But the extent to which such injuries affect intelligence was quite surprising.”


The report, “Serious Fighting-Related Injuries Produce a Significant Reduction in Intelligence,” says that roughly 4 percent of high school students are physically injured in fights each year. Researchers estimate that, on average, each fight-related injury results in an IQ loss of about 1.62 points for boys and an IQ loss of about 3.02 points points for girls. By comparison, the authors of the report suggest that the impact of missing an entire academic year is typically a 2- to 4-point loss in IQ.


The findings of the study, Schwartz said, may encourage schools to rethink their policies about teen fighting, because of the possible link between serious adolescent injury and diminished long-term cognitive functioning.


“We tend to focus on factors that may result in increases in intelligence over time, but examining the factors that result in decreases may be just as important,” Schwartz said. “By knowing that fighting-related injuries result in a significant decrease in intelligence, we can begin to develop programs and protocols aimed at effective intervention.”

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