Scientists say they can predict if toddlers will have behavioural issues
Scientists say they can now predict which toddlers will go on to lead difficult lives and are more likely to become a burden on society.
King's College researchers tracked more than 1,000 children from before preschool to the age of 38. At around three years of age, all the children were assessed on language and motor skills, tolerance levels, restlessness, general intelligence and social disadvantage.
Incredibly, 38 years later, the study showed that one-fifth of the group had 81 percent of the criminal convictions.
According to the study, published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, the same fifth claimed two-thirds of the social welfare payments and 75 percent of drug prescriptions.
They also took more than half of the nights in hospital counted among the entire group.
“About 20 per cent of population is using the lion’s share of a wide array of public services,” Prof Terrie Moffitt, of King’s College and Duke University in North Carolina told The Telegraph.
“The same people use most of the NHS, the criminal courts, insurance claims, for disabling injury, pharmaceutical prescriptions and special welfare benefits.
“If we stopped there it might be fair to think these are lazy bums who are freeloading off the taxpayer and exploiting the public purse.
“But we also went further back into their childhood and found that 20 per cent begin their lives with mild problems with brain function and brain health when they were very small children."
According to Prof Moffitt, the research could be key in deciding which children would benefit from early intervention in the future. In fact, doing so could end up saving a lot of money in the long run.
“Looking at health examinations really changed the whole picture. It gives you a feeling of compassion for these people as opposed to a feeling of blame.
“Being able to predict which children will struggle is an opportunity to intervene in their lives very early to attempt to change their trajectories, for everyone’s benefit and could bring big returns on investment for government.”
The researchers are now planning to focus on one-third of the group who contributed taxes but never used public services.
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