The Risks of Being Left Handed

Left handedness has been a fascination of scientists for centuries.

Curiosity ranged from fear to questions about how the brain works and what is different about left handed brains.

New research explores what might cause left handedness and what, if any health risks may accompany this trait and whether or not the cause is in the genes or in the environment.

Handedness, as the dominance of one hand over the other is called, provides a window into the way our brains are wired, experts say. And it may help shed light on disorders related to brain development, like dyslexia, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, which are more common in left-handed people.

Other recent research suggests that mixed-handedness—using different hands for daily tasks and not having a dominant one—may be even more strongly linked than left-handedness to ADHD and possibly other conditions.

About 10% of people are left-handed, according to expert estimates. Another 1% of the population is mixed-handed. What causes people not to favor their right hand is only partly due to genetics—even identical twins, who have 100% of the same genes, don’t always share handedness.

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