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First-born children more likely to develop short-sightedness

Posted October 13, 2015
Traditionally, a person might enter a password or pull out a driver's license or passport as proof of identity. But increasingly, identification and authentication can also require an eye scan or a well-placed hand. It's a science known as biometrics, recognizing individuals based on their physical or behavioral characteristics. The structure of the face, the geometrics of the hand, the ridges of a fingerprint, the patterns in an iris--every person carries multiple human traits that are a unique form of personal identification. "The primary advantage of a biometric trait is that it belongs to that individual. You're implicitly connected to it, unlike passwords or tokens or passports, which are external to an individual," says Arun Ross, a computer science and electrical engineering professor at West Virginia University, one of three institutions where the National Science Foundation is helping to fund a coalition of biometrics research sites. The Center for Identification Technology Research, or CITeR, as the coalition is known, is an example of the important role that public and private funding can play in the innovation process. Find out more in this video.  Credit: NBC Learn, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and National Science Foundation

Credit: NBC Learn, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and National Science Foundation

A large study led by researchers from the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences has shown that first-born children are more likely to develop myopia – a term otherwise known as short-sightedness – than later born children.

The study of nearly 90,000 people in the UK, aged 49 to 60, showed that first-born individuals were approximately 10% more likely to have myopia, and approximately 20% more likely to have a more severe form of the condition, than later born individuals.

Myopia, or short-sightedness, can often lead to visual impairment and blindness and is becoming an increasingly important public health issue, partly because it is becoming more common in younger generations in many parts of the world.

The researchers found evidence suggesting that exposure to education may protect later born children from myopia, with parents investing more education activities to first born children, although a causal relationship was not found.

The team, led by Professor Jeremy Guggenheim, from the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, write: “The results replicate earlier findings from 2 contemporary international cohorts of adolescents/young adults, implying that the cause of the birth order–myopia association is widespread and has been in existence for several decades. The association was larger before adjusting for educational exposure, suggesting that reduced parental investment in the education of children of later birth order may be partly responsible.”

The results have been published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

Source: Cardiff University


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