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Reservations about Study Stating Sickle Cell Patients Have Lower IQs

Posted May 13 2010 3:09pm

I am concerned about the study from Oakland Children's Hospital stating that adult sickle cell patients have lower IQs than the normal population.  An article by Erin Allday in the 5/12/10 San Francisco Chronicle said these results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Having worked for five years at Oakland Children's Hospital directing a program for children with disabilities, there are several facts I would want to know. What tests were used to determine IQs, who gave the tests, and who were used as controls? The reason the answers are so important is that several studies have been done showing that African-American patients do poorly on the usual IQ tests because many of the words used in the tests are not familiar to them and because of their poor test-taking skills due to the mostly underfunded and inadequate schools in low income areas.

I attended many school meetings for my patients with an attempt to try and get them adequate programs. I was generally appallled at the little money put into the Oakland schools and the burden placed on the teachers.  Many of the children came from homes with no books, hard working single parent mothers, and living conditions that were inadequate. Taking tests is a real skill. Some of us have been fortunate to know how to take tests, others have real test-taking anxiety. I remember  a prominent, very  bright doctor telling me that he was given an IQ test when he was in school and his parents were told that his IQ was 80! No, he did not have sickle cell disease and his IQ is probably in the genius range. There are few psychologists who have the training to give the proper battery of tests to adequately determine a child's IQ. If a child is learning disabled or has test-taking anxiety or the words are unfamiliar, the results are not valid. Thus, I would have great concerns about the results from the study done at Oakland Children's Hospital.

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