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If Your Child Is Bad at Math, It May Be Your Fault

Mixed race student counting on fingers in classroom
Photograph by Getty Images/Blend Images

Terrible at math? Blame your mom! A hormone deficiency in pregnant women can cause a deficiency in math skills in their children.

New research shows that children of women with low thyroid levels are 60 percent more likely to struggle with math in school.

Lead author Dr. Martin Finken and his research team tested the thyroxine levels in mothers of 1,196 children when they were 12 weeks pregnant. They continued to follow the progress of the children until they were 5 years old. Those children whose mothers had the lowest levels of thyroxine when they were pregnant were almost twice as likely to do poorly on a math test.

Dr. Finken and his team or researchers believe that hormone tests could be used to identify children in need of help when it comes to math. Women with low levels of thyroxine could be given supplements.

"It is possible that these children could benefit from hormonal supplements to boost their brain development in the womb. Such treatment has been tried in the past but as yet has failed to improve cognitive ability," Finken told the Daily Mail.

Professor John Lazarus, a former trustee of the British Thyroid Foundation, thinks that the problem is iodine. Pregnant women have a lack of iodine in their diet, which is the main ingredient of thyroxine. Lazarus believes that an increase of iodine, found in fish and milk, in pregnant women will help boost their children's brainpower.

For now, Finken will continue to study the children's performances in school and how well they fare in math class.

"Whether these problems persist into adulthood remains to be seen," Finken told the Daily Mail. "We will continue to follow these children to answer this next big question."

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