Researchers from the University of New Mexico at Albequerque have recently discovered an inverse correlation between infectious disease and IQ, suggesting that societies that have greater instances of disease are, on average, less intelligent.
At first glance this seems hardly surprising. Many infectious diseases are caused by contaminated water which is found in high quantities in developing countries. Water contamination in these areas may be attributed to lower income levels and fewer educational opportunities than those that exist in developed nations. Of course with fewer educational opportunities, a high level of intelligence is unlikely.
Interestingly, however, the report shows that these factors – income and education – among others that were tested, have very little influence on one’s intelligence. According to the data, most countries with poor water quality and sanitation have lower average national IQ levels, suggesting that waterborne illness plays a role in brain development. The reason for this is that the energy used to fight disease is diverted from the development of the brain.
The moral of the study: clean water is not only essential to good health. It makes you smarter! This finding is just as critical to developed nations as it is to poor countries, since our water is often contaminated by the chemicals used to prevent waterborne illness. For example, PFOA, the chemical used to coat nonstick cookware, has been found in several water supplies and is linked to ADHD – a disorder, which, while not classified as a learning disability, often affects a child’s ability to learn. We must all, not only do our part to help those in developing nations gain access to clean water, but also ensure that we have access to uncontaminated water resources.