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Ambidexterity: Two Hands May Not Be Better Than One

When I was in elementary school, I always admired the kids who were nimble enough to write with either their left or right hands. What a neat trick!

A new study by a group of European colleges suggests, however, that there may be a possible downside to this rare ability, which occurs in about one of every 100 children. Children who are ambidextrous are more likely to have problems that affect their schoolwork than right- or left-handed children, according to this study, which is described today in Science Daily.

Set to be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Pediatrics, the research is based on a sample of nearly 8,000 Finnish children, 87 of whom were ambidextrous. At age 7 or 8, the researchers found, the ambidextrous children were twice as likely as their right-handed peers to have difficulties with language and to perform poorly in school. At 15 or 16, they faced twice the risk of exhibiting symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, ADhD, than their right-handed peers.

Researchers were quick to caution, however, that their findings don't mean that all mixed-handed children will develop the same problems. But, if future studies bear out the same trend, ambidexterity might provide a useful early-warning flag for parents and educators.

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