People who have had an infection that made them so sick they had to be hospitalized may have IQs that are slightly lower than average, a new study suggests.
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University in Denmark examined the hospital records of 190,000 Danish men born between 1974 and 1994. All the men took IQ tests at age 19, as part of the process of signing up for Denmark’s mandatory draft. The tests were designed to assess their logical, verbal, numerical and spatial reasoning.
“Infections in the brain affected the cognitive ability the most, but many other types of infections severe enough to require hospitalization can also impair a patient’s cognitive ability,” study author Dr. Michael Eriksen Benrós, a researcher at the National Centre for Register-Based Research, said in a statement.
Moreover, the more times a person was hospitalized, the lower his IQ, researchers found. Those with five or more hospitalizations for infection had an average IQ that was 9.44 points below the average of those who were not hospitalized.
The study shows that there is a strong relationship between the number and severity of infections a person has and that person’s cognitive ability, according to the authors. The infections seen in the study included those of the stomach, urinary tract and skin, as well as some sexually transmitted infections such as herpes.
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