Children who can write with both
hands are more likely to suffer from mental health problems and have
difficulties in school, a new study shows.
They are twice as likely to be
hyperactive as their classmates, researchers found.
They are also twice as likely to
suffer from language and learning problems, such as dyslexia.
Scientists believe that differences
in how the children’s brains work compared to others could link the problems,
but admit they do not yet understand how.
An estimated 600,000 people on
Britain are thought to be ambidextrous, or mixed-handed, as it is also known.
The team behind the research say
that teachers and doctors should try to identify those children who may be at
risk of suffering educational or health problems.
Dr. Alina Rodriguez, from Imperial
College London, who led the study, said: “Mixed-handedness is intriguing –
we don’t know why some people prefer to make use of both hands when most people
use only one.
“[This research] suggests that some
children who are mixed-handed experience greater difficulties in school than
their left- and right-handed friends.
“We think that there are
differences in the brain that might explain these difficulties, but there needs
to be more research.”
She added: “Our results should not
be taken to mean that all children who are mixed-handed will have problems at
school or develop ADHD.
“We found that mixed-handed
children and adolescents were at a higher risk of having certain problems, but
we’d like to stress that most of the mixed-handed children we followed didn’t
have any of these difficulties.”
The study looked at almost 8,000
children, 87 of whom used both hands to write.
The researchers found that by the
ages of seven or eight those children were twice as likely as their
right-handed peers to have difficulties with language and to perform badly in
By the time they reached the age of
15 or 16 the teenagers were also as likely to suffer from attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Youngsters who were ambidextrous
were also more likely to have more severe symptoms of the condition than
Scientists are still at a loss to
explain why some people can write with both hands, when most find the feat
Studies suggest that people who
write with their right hand have a more dominant left half of their brain.
Some researchers believe that the
chances of developing ADHD could be influenced by having a weaker functioning
right hemisphere of the brain.
The Imperial study looked at 7,871
children from northern Finland, whose teachers and parents were asked to assess
them at the age of 7 or 8 and then again at 15 or 16.
Around one in 100 people is
ambidextrous, according to the report, published in the journal Paediatrics.