Disease and intelligence…

Having started watching the series on malnutrition in the world and its devastating effects on children and their families, I thought this article from the Economist was somewhat related and certainly interesting.

Obviously hunger and malnutrition are serious threats to the healthy development of children, but as this article discusses, so are infectious diseases and parasites.

The main premise of the article is that in parts of the world where parasites and diseases are most prevalent, many people, on average, have a lower IQ than people who grow up without contracting serious diseases and parasites, such as intestinal worms or malaria. For example, if a child’s body, which is meant to use most of its energy on building up the brain, is forced to use valuable body resources fighting illness, the child’s cognitive development is negatively, and often seriously, effected. Similarly, if a child suffers from intestinal worms, this parasite prevents the child’s body from absorbing valuable nutrients from food, and therefore, brain development suffers.

Basically, the point is that there is a vicious circle in some developing countries which lack such things as clean drinking water, adequate heath care, etc, which leads to more childhood disease effecting the development and intelligence of its population, which again, makes the country less able to improve its situation. Eliminating serious diseases in the developing world must be a priority.

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