The gaze characteristics in preterm children: The appropriate timing for an eye-tracking tool

Soichi Yamase, Wakako Ishii, Nobuhiko Nagano, Aya Okahashi, Kimiko Deguchi, Emiko Momoki, Ichiro Morioka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: An objective screening tool for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), also known as an eye-tracking tool, assesses the patient's abnormal gaze patterns and detects the risk of ASD. As this tool is generally used for children born at term, this study aimed to clarify the appropriate timing for using the tool for preterm children, factors that influence the timing, and evaluate their gaze characteristics using the Gazefinder®. Method: In 90 preterm children, a total of 125 eye-tracking tasks were completed and analyzed in 3–6, 7–9, 10–12, 13–18, and 19–32 months of corrected age (CA). The Gazefinder® was used to compare the mean fixation time percentage (MFP) in each CA and evaluate the gaze patterns. Perinatal factors associated with low MFP were also analyzed. Results: Only 50% of the children scored ≥70% MFP at 3–6 months of CA. The MFP increased significantly after 7 months of CA (p = 0.0003), reached 90% at 13–18 months, and 100% at 19–32 months of CA. Chronic lung disease (CLD) was a clinical factor associated with low MFP (p = 0.036). Preterm children gazed more at eyes but gazed at mouths when the mouth moved. Conclusion: It is necessary for preterm children to begin using Gazefinder® atleast at ≥13 months of age, especially those complicated with CLD. Preterm children prefer gazing at social information just as typically developing children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-578
Number of pages8
JournalBrain and Development
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Eye-tracking
  • Face recognition
  • Gaze pattern
  • Preterm birth


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