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Read Early, Read Often

A polygenic score can gauge whether children will be successful later in life, a team of Duke University-led researchers reports in Psychological Science.

Duke's Avshalom Caspi and his colleagues drew upon the long-running Dunedin Study, using a cohort of 918 people who'd been followed since birth in 1972 or 1973 in New Zealand and who'd been genotyped. The cohort also underwent periodic assessments and interviews that gauged their reading skills, educational attainment, financial know-how, and life satisfaction. From this, Caspi and his colleagues report that people with certain SNP patterns were more likely to be successful by age 38, as deemed by their education status, occupation, and income. The researchers also note that the effect stood when they accounted for their parents' socioeconomic status.

"You wouldn't have predicted social mobility based on genetics," Robert Plomin from King's College London tells New Scientist. "I think it's a heartening sign."

Still, New Scientist notes that this polygenic score only accounts for a small percentage of differences between people's educational attainment. It also isn't linked to life satisfaction or to health, it adds.

But as a higher polygenic score was associated with learning to read at an earlier age and as a young reading age, in turn, has been linked to better life outcomes first author Daniel Belsky says "[y]ou could argue in favor of investing in early language acquisition and reading."