Ambidextrous Children More Likely to Have Learning Difficulties

Children who are ambidextrous are more likely to have learning and language difficulties than those who are right or left-handed, according to research, The Times of London reported Monday.

A study of nearly 8,000 children by scientists at Imperial College London suggests that an 8-year-old child who is ambidextrous will be twice as likely to have problems with language and to perform poorly in school.

Researchers said that the findings could help teachers and health professionals to identify children who are particularly at risk of developing certain problems.

Ambidexterity, also known as being "mixed-handed", is when a person favors one hand for some tasks and the other hand for others — such as writing and throwing a ball or holding a bat. It is estimated to affect between 1 percent and 5 percent of people.

True ambidexterity — when a person can carry out all tasks with equal proficiency with both hands — is much rarer.

The latest research, published in the American journal Pediatrics, found that 87 children in the study cohort, who were born in Finland in the mid-1980s, were mixed-handed.

When aged 7 and 8, the ambidextrous group had raised rates of learning problems compared with their right-handed peers. In their mid-teens, the group also had twice the risk of having symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Also, ambidextrous adolescents were more likely to have more severe symptoms of ADHD, which affects about one in 20 school-aged children.

The group also reported having greater difficulties with language than those who were left or right-handed — a finding in line with earlier studies linking ambidexterity with dyslexia.

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