Are you dull in Maths? Blame your mother, says researcher

Are you dull in Maths? Blame your mother, says researcher

Friday, September 19, 2014 10:55 pm

If you have always found doing Mathematics a nightmare, you might just get a person to blame for your problem: your mother.

A new research has linked a woman’s hormone levels in pregnancy with her child’s maths skills at age five.

Boys and girls whose mothers were very low in the hormone thyroxine were almost twice as likely to do badly in arithmetic tests, it found.

a Maths teacher in Hong Kong

Thyroxine, which passes from mother to baby in the womb, is crucial for the development of the brain – but many expectant mothers have too little of it. Researcher Martijn Finken studied almost 1,200 children from when they were in the womb until they started school.

He measured their mothers’ thyroxine levels 12 weeks into pregnancy and compared the results with the children’s scores in arithmetic and language tests at age five.

Those who were exposed to the lowest levels of thyroxine in the womb were 90 per cent more likely to end up in the bottom half of the class for maths.

This was true even after taking into account the child’s family background and health at birth.

Interestingly, hormone levels were not linked to the children’s scores on tests of vocabulary and ability with language.

Dr Finken said this may be because our language skills owe a lot to our upbringing.

Our maths ability, on the other hand, can be traced more directly back to brain development.

The researcher, a paediatric endocrinologist from the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, will continue to track the children’s progress as they go through their school years.

Dr Finken said: ‘Whether these problems persist into adulthood remains to be seen. We will continue to follow these children to answer this next big question.’

Professor Lazarus, who is a former trustee of the British Thyroid Foundation, put the widespread problem down to a lack of iodine in the diet. Iodine, which is found in milk and fish, is the main ingredient of thyroxine.

He suggested that iodine should be added to salt to boost people’s consumption – a move that has been taken in many other countries.

.Story originally published by Mail Online

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