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Christine Allison, Darrell Schlange; Eye-Movement Analysis in Relationship to Birth Order in Children. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(15):182.
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The purpose of this study was to analyze the relationship between birth order and appropriate saccadic and fixation eye-movement abilities. It was theorized that first born children and children with no siblings may exhibit better saccades and fixation control prior to entering Kindergarten due to the ways they might play differently, and/or that they might spend more time reading with a caregiver.
93 children with similar academic and socioeconomic backgrounds were examined the summer prior to entering Kindergarten. The age range was 4 to 6 years old. Each child was given a full comprehensive eye examination including tests of accommodation, vergence, and ocular health. The children also received eye-movement analysis of their saccades and fixations ability as recorded with the Visagraph visual skills protocol. The primary caregivers completed a survey regarding the number and ages of siblings, prior school history, and the amount of time the children spent on specific tasks such as being read to by an adult, playing near vision games, and participating in outdoor activities.
Children who were first in birth order exhibited better fixation control with fewer off-target drifts (F 27.143, p <0.05) and more efficient horizontal saccades (F 16.844, p <0.05 ). These observations were also noted in the children that were read to more often and performed more near vision games, specifically coloring activities.
The type of activities that first born children choose or are encouraged to perform on a daily basis may lead to better eye movement skills by the time they enter kindergarten. This may result in earlier school success and earlier reading when compared to children later in the birth order. The children in this study, who remain in the same school system, are currently being re-evaluated prior to entering third grade to determine if these observations remain with age, or if the abilities equalize with time.
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