Tests can predict whether children as young as three will grow up to be criminals, claim a disproportionate amount of benefits or be obese, a 35-year study suggests.
Scientists from King’s College London believe society could intervene to give these kids “better chances” after studying a group of more than 1,000 people until they were 38.
They found a fifth of the children, all born in New Zealand, were responsible for 81% of criminal convictions, 66% of welfare benefits and 57% spending nights in hospital.
The researchers found a 45-minute “brain health” test at the age of three could accurately predict whether a person was going to fall into this group..
“There is a really powerful connection from children’s early beginnings to where they end up,” said Professor Avshalom Caspi from the university’s social genetic and developmental psychiatry department, according to PA.
Professor Caspi continued, writing in the journal Nature Human Behaviour: “The purpose of this was not to use these data to complicate children’s lives any further.
“It’s to say these children - all children - need a lot of resources, and helping them could yield a remarkable return on investment when they grow up.”
Brain health was determined by assessing intelligence, receptive language and motor skills.
Deprivation was also found to be a major predictor of this group in the study by the London researchers and colleagues from Duke University in North Carolina and the University of Otago in New Zealand.
The group also smoked 54% of cigarettes, accounted for 78% of prescriptions and accounted for 36% of injury insurance claims, according to the research.