The UK press yesterday heavily ran the news that a Cardiff University researcher suggested testing children for a gene linked to IQ along with neonatal thyroid screening.
The suggestion sprang from a study of children by Cardiff and the University of Bristol that looked at thyroid and genetic data from 3,123 seven-year-olds who also had taken IQ tests as part of another study, according to the BBC.
The team found that children with low thyroid levels who also have the DIO2 gene variant, which is involved in coding a hormone-regulating enzyme, were four times as likely to have a low IQ, below 85, than the normal population.
Cardiff School of Medicine's Peter Taylor who led the study, said that if the finding is confirmed in other studies then it could be useful in identifying "children at most risk of developing low IQ."
"Children with satisfactory thyroid hormone levels together with the genetic variant have normal IQ levels, which raises the possibility that children at risk could be treated with standard thyroid hormone tablets to compensate for impaired thyroid hormone processing," Taylor says.
The researchers found that about four percent of the children tested had both the DIO2 mutation and low thyroid levels, but also noted that children who possessed either of these traits alone were not affected.