A new study - thought to be the first of its kind - will see researchers use eye-tracking technology to check for any future language, social and attention weaknesses in babies as young as six-months old.

The researchers, from the University of East London, hope that by picking up on developmental weaknesses early, it will give babies born in more deprived areas an equal chance of success compared with their well-off peers when they enter school.

The study, called Take a Look Baby, will work with parents of all backgrounds through Children's Centres - the first time such a study has been taken into the community.

Currently, eye-tracking technology is usually confined to university "babylabs", while the study of language development relies on assessing speech patterns once infants begin to talk, usually from the age of two-years.

Lead researcher Professor Derek Moore, of UEL's Institute for Research in Child Development, said: "An estimated one in ten of the UK's children are affected by language difficulties by the time they start school.

"In the long-term, eye-tracking technology could help to identify some of these weaknesses far earlier than is possible at the moment. This will help children to get the best possible start to their education."

The study will take three years and is being funded by the Nuffield Foundation, and will be conducted at Children's Centres in Tower Hamlets and Newham, east London.

Posted by Rob Mair on 11.3.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com