Babies of Blind Moms Excel in Vision Tests
Tue, Apr 9, 2013.. .
Babies born to blind mothers have better visual attention and memory than their counterparts with seeing parents, new research suggests.
The findings, published today (April 9) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggest that blind parents' inability to respond to gaze and eye contact doesn't harm their babies' development.
In fact, the need to rapidly switch between communicating with blind parents and the seeing world may actually enhance tots’ budding abilities by boosting their visual attention, the study found.
"The babies are very flexible, and they can easily adapt to the different modes of communication," said study co-author Atsushi Senju, a developmental cognitive neuroscientist at Birkbeck, University of London.
Past studies have shown that children with autism make less eye contact and follow people's gaze less often. Children in orphanages, who get little eye contact or social interaction, also show development problems.
Senju and his colleagues wondered how the lack of eye contact and gazing from blind parents affected their seeing children. Blind people may not be able to gaze into their little ones' eyes, but they still interact just as much through sound, touch and talking, Senju's team knew from past studies by other teams.
For the new study, researchers divided a sample of babies into two groups: five babies with a blind mother and a sighted or partially-sighted fatherand 51 babies with two seeing parents. The researchers then showed the two groups a video of people and compared the gaze of the babies of blind mothers to that of the babies with seeing parents. [11 Odd Facts About a Baby's Brain]
They evaluated the babies twice: once when the tots were between 6 months and 10 months old, and again when the kids were between 12 months and 15 months old. Then, they assessed the babies' brain development between ages 2 and 4.