The blog of Bill Gates
gatesnotes
The blog of Bill Gates

A Disturbing Link: Disease and Intelligence

Sign In
 
My Profile & Settings
Log out
GO
Your search for "", with selected filters, does not match any posts. Please try again with a different search term or reset filters.

Popular searches include: Books, Malaria, and Future of Food.
RELATED ARTICLES ON
Logout:


Become a Gates Notes Insider
- or - Sign up with email
This email is already registered. Enter a new email, try signing in or retrieve your password
Send me updates from Bill Gates
Sign Up
Join the Gates Notes community to access exclusive content, comment on stories, subscribe to your favorite topics and more. We will never share or spam your email address. For more information see our Sign Up FAQ. By clicking "Sign Up" you agree to the Gates Notes Terms of Use / Privacy Policy.
Account Settings
VIEW & EDIT PROFILE
Your Information
First name
Last name
Save
Cancel
Email address
This email is already registered
Save
Cancel
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Password
Save
Cancel
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
Your Interests
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Philanthropy
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Deactivate Account
Click the link below to begin the account deactivation process. Deactivate account If you want to permanently delete your account and remove its content, please send us a request here.
Ok
Gates Notes Insider Sign Up FAQ

Q. How do I create a Gates Notes account?

A. There are three ways you can create a Gates Notes account:

  • Sign up with Facebook. We’ll never post to your Facebook account without your permission.
  • Sign up with Twitter. We’ll never post to your Twitter account without your permission.
  • Sign up with your email. Enter your email address during sign up. We’ll email you a link for verification.

Q. Will you ever post to my Facebook or Twitter accounts without my permission?

A. No, never.

Q. How do I sign up to receive email communications from my Gates Notes account?

A. In Account Settings, click the toggle switch next to “Send me updates from Bill Gates.”

Q. How will you use the Interests I select in Account Settings?

A. We will use them to choose the Suggested Reads that appear on your profile page.

Forgot your password?
This email is already registered. Enter a new email, try signing in or retrieve your password
Reset Password
Change your header photo
your image
 
Change
your image
Uh Oh!

The image you are trying to upload is either too big or is an unacceptable format. Please upload a .jpg or .png image that is under 25MB.

Ok
First name
Last name
Enter a first and last name. For example, "Richard Feynman"
Bio
0/160 characters
Edit Profile
Account Settings
Save
Cancel
Suggested Reads
Reset your password.
Set New Password
Your password has been reset. You will now be redirected to the sign in page, or you can click here
Ok
Get emails from Bill Gates
Send me updates from Bill
You must provide an email
This email is already registered
Continue
We will never share or spam your email address. For more information see our Sign Up FAQ. By clicking "Continue" you agree to the Gates Notes Terms of Use / Privacy Policy.
 
your image
Uh Oh!
The image you are trying to upload is either too big or is an unacceptable format. Please upload a .jpg or .png image that is under 25MB.
Ok
Welcome FirstName!
You are now a Gates Notes Insider
Update Your Profile Information
First name
Last name
Save
Cancel
Email address
This email is already registered
Save
Cancel
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
Select Your Interests
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Philanthropy
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Continue
Confirm
Are you sure you want to
deactivate your account?
Deactivating your account will unsubscribe you from Gates Notes emails, and will remove your profile and account information from public view on the Gates Notes. Please allow for 24 hours for the deactivation to fully process. You can sign back in at any time to reactivate your account and restore its content.
Deactivate My Acccount
Go Back
Your Gates Notes account has been deactivated.
Come back anytime.
Welcome back
In order to unsubscribe you will need to sign-in to your Gates Notes Insider account
Once signed in just go to your Account Settings page and set your subscription options as desired.
Sign In
Request account deletion
We’re sorry to see you go. Your request may take a few days to process; we want to double check things before hitting the big red button. Requesting an account deletion will permanently remove all of your profile content. If you’ve changed your mind about deleting your account, you can always hit cancel and deactivate instead.
Submit
Cancel
Thank You! Your request has been sent
Become a Gates Notes Insider for access to exclusive content and personalized reading suggestions
Sign up to receive occasional updates from the Gates Notes
Sign Up
Privacy Policy
Please complete your account verification. Resend verification email.
This verification token has expired.
Your email address has been verified. Update my profile.
Your account has been deactivated. Sign up to re-activate your account.
View all newsletters in the newsletter archive
You are now unsubscribed from receiving emails.
Sorry, we were unable to unsubscribe you at this time.
The blog of Bill Gates
A Disturbing Link: Disease and Intelligence
 
Hello, . . My Profile & Settings
Log out
FOLLOW ME
It looks like you're using an older version of Internet Explorer which may not display all the features on this site. Upgrade Now » close
Health Affects Minds

A Disturbing Link: Disease and Intelligence

Central to our work in global health has been the effort to reduce infectious diseases such as diarrhea and malaria in developing countries. Because these diseases no longer affect the rich world, they haven’t received the attention they should given their truly devastating impacts on poor communities, where they’re prevalent.

Infectious diseases in developing countries are important not only because of the tragic toll they take in human lives lost, but also because of the tremendous social and economic costs associated with them.

Recently I read an article in The Economist, which looks at growing evidence that disease and intelligence are connected in ways that are pretty shocking and troubling. Although more studies are needed, the evidence makes me even more convinced that we need to get after malaria and diarrhea – and many other diseases far too common in the developing world – in a big way.

Specifically, new research by University of New Mexico researchers has found that cognitive ability (IQ) is generally lower in places where infectious diseases are widespread, i.e., poor countries.

People are just now realizing this. It’s a huge scandal and yet another reason why it’s so critically important to fight infectious disease, which takes a huge toll on people’s ability to learn and climb out of poverty.

What’s going on is that fighting off parasites and microbes associated with things like diarrhea and malaria takes away energy that the body needs for brain development. This is especially true among children and infants. Newborns use almost all their metabolic energy for their rapidly developing brains. Analyzing IQ and epidemiological data from around the world, the UNM researchers found that the burden of infectious disease plays a much bigger role in depressing IQ than other possible explanations that have been talked about.

There’s also clinical evidence. For example, research in Uganda found that children who survive cerebral malaria, which affects more than a half-million African children every year, continue to suffer significant cognitive impairments, mainly memory and attention deficit, even two years later. The Ugandan researchers found that these children can be helped by weekly sessions where they use cognitive training software on PCs. But this is an expensive, intensive and only partially effective approach to a problem that could have been prevented to begin with.

The cognitive problems created by malaria are another strong reason why our foundation has made fighting it a priority. We’re trying to help develop a safe, highly effective and affordable malaria vaccine, while also supporting efforts to improve treatment, diagnostics and other malaria control measures.

Widespread infectious disease may even impair kids who don’t get sick themselves. Adults who are ill are less productive; farmers grow less food, for example. Less food means less energy available for their kids and their kids’ brain development. An article in The Lancet medical journal estimates that because of malnutrition, poverty and poor health, over 200 million children under five years are not fulfilling their developmental potential.

In the past, some people have suggested that poor countries are poor because the people there have lower IQs. But it’s really the other way around. Poverty breeds disease, which can affect brain development, which reinforces poverty. Improving global health is a way to break this cycle.

Become a Gates Notes Insider for access to exclusive content and personalized reading suggestions

Read previous versions of the Annual Letter


Discussion
comments powered by Disqus