A brain test in children as young as 3-years-old may indicate whether they are predisposed to end up as criminals, get benefits, or have health problems.
The results were found in a 35-year longitudinal study of close 1,000 individuals born in the New Zealand city of Dunedin.
Scientists from three universities studied the lives of their participants until they were 38-years-old.
Researchers discovered that about a fifth of those observed were responsible for 81% of convictions as criminals and 66% of welfare benefits, according to the BBC.
This portion of the study population also consumed 75% of drug prescriptions, spent more than half of nights in hospitals, and smoked over half of the cigarettes.
The study also revealed that the particular subgroup was accurately predicted at the 3-years-old during a 45-minute “brain health” test.
The brain test involved assessments of motor skills, intelligence, and receptive language.
The fifth of the group accounted for the “lion’s share of social costs such as crime, welfare dependence and health care needs as adults,” the study, which was published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, revealed.
These types of tests may provide hope of developing early intervention techniques to avoid such high societal costs, the scientists, from King’s College in London, Duke University in North Carolina, the University of Otago in New Zealand, stated.
“There is a powerful connection from children’s early beginnings to where they end up,” said Avshalo, Caspi, a King’s College Professor.
“The purpose of this was not to use these data to complicate children’s lives any further. It’s to say these children need a lot of resources, and helping them could yield a remarkable return on investment when they grow up.”