Respected members, I live in Vellore, South India were people from at least 4 Indian states live. That means 4 different languages. Almost always, it is English which connects them in a public place like our child health center. It is common to ask the number of children a mother has, and the birth order of the child brought to our center. Many educated mothers, with English as second language do not understand this term " birth order". They do not answer " what is the childs birth order?". So I have to reframe it as " this is your first child or second child?". Is there a alternate term for " birth order" in such situations? thanks in advance

  • Minimally, this question seems related. I'm linking to my answer to this specifically, because I want you to skip down to the subsection "a context sensitive way of referring to order" where I discuss the phrase "priority of birth" and suggest "seniority" as an alternative. – Tonepoet Jul 29 '16 at 14:51

I think that any single word that means "birth order" will be esoteric enough or rare enough that your patient will not likely understand it either.

My advice would be to simply use more words instead of fewer convey the same idea.

How many children do you have?

Is this the oldest child?

Was he born second? Third?

I'm sure someone will come along and suggest a word or phrase that means the same as "birth order," but my advice would be not to use a more complicated single word but more simple words to get your point across with the least chance of confusion.


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