First-borns get better education, but worse eyesight

| | October 16, 2015
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It’s bad enough for the first kid when a new baby shows up to steal your thunder. But the injustice is compounded when you have to start wearing glasses while your little sibling stays as cute and non-four-eyed as ever. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone: firstborn kids are more likely to be nearsighted. Part of the reason might be that they get more education.

A study in the United Kingdom and Israel found that myopia—that’s nearsightedness, if you’re one of those lucky people who hasn’t spent much time at the optometrist’s office—is about 10% more common in firstborn children. But that study only looked at subjects between 15 and 22 years old. Is this a new issue, or have older siblings always gotten the short end of the eyesight stick?

After controlling for age and sex, the researchers saw that first children were about 12% more likely to be nearsighted than second children. This was similar to the finding of the earlier study with younger subjects. Firstborns were also 21% likelier than second-borns to have severe myopia. And when compared to people born fourth or later, firstborns were almost 40% more likely to be nearsighted.

Earlier research suggested that parents spend more resources on educating their oldest children than other kids. So Guggenheim and Williams adjusted their analysis for how many years of education people had received. This took away about a quarter of the extra myopia in firstborns.

Read full, original post: Why More Firstborn Kids Need Glasses

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