9 Surprising Scientific Facts About Youngest Children

numbersAsk most firstborns how Mom and Dad treat the baby of the family, and you're sure to hear a ration of complaints. They're spoiled! Adored! Pampered. But is it true? Do you really treat your lastborn child differently?

Is the youngest child in the family any different from their siblings? And is it because of birth order, or would they have been the same kid if they were born first? Turns out science has a lot to say on what makes your lastborn child tick:


1. They're more prone to obesity. When researchers in Copenhagen looked at the weights of children based on birth order, they found the last born child was most likely to be obese in a family.  They shared the trait with only children.

2. They're more creative. At least when it comes to careers! A study by CareerBuilder found the youngest children in a family tended to pick careers such as art/design/architecture, editing/writing, information technology, or sales.

3. They have it easier. When economists from Duke University and Washington University looked at parental rules and birth order, they found rules, parental monitoring and consequences for wrongdoing lessen as parents go from oldest down to youngest.

4. They're dumber. Well, relatively speaking! When scientists at the University of Oslo looked at the IQ scores of men, they found firstborns were likely to have higher IQs than secondborns. What's more, secondborns were likely to have higher IQs than thirdborns!

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 5. They're rebels. Ever looked at your youngest child and though, "If they'd been the first, they would have been the last?" Psychologist Frank Sulloway, author of Born to Rebel, has found a reason for that! His studies have shown firstborns are more likely to follow parents' rules, while their younger siblings are born to, well, ... rebel against them!

6. They're at higher risk of disease. A little general? The more scientists are looking at how a father's advanced age at conception can affect the baby, the more they're finding! Technically the risks of having an older dad affect any child born to one -- but because he's technically oldest with his last child, the risks are higher for the lastborn. Among those diseases most prevalent in youngest children? Achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism.

7. They're at a lower risk of diabetes. Despite what we just shared in #7, it's not all bad! Researchers at Oxford delivered bad news for firstborns who are at the highest risk for diabetes, but they found that risk decreases as birth order increases (in other words, it's less for baby number two, even less for baby number three, etc.).

8. They speak just as well as their siblings. Ever been warned that your lastborn will speak later because the older kids will speak for him or her? Not true! Scientists have actually found that younger children have to work harder to be included in their older siblings' conversations -- and they are "more advanced in their conversational skills."

9. They're just as callous as the rest of us. If you think your youngest child is more empathetic then their older siblings because they're always being bossed around, that might just be your perception. Because Israeli scientists say it's not true -- in fact, birth order was found to have no affect on how a child does or doesn't develop empathy.

Which of these ring true for the youngest children in your life?


Image via Lenore Edman/Flickr

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