Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Your birth month may predispose you to some diseases

Wonkblog has come up with another intriguing study that may (or may not) tell scientists something about how seasonal environments facilitate adult susceptibility to some conditions and diseases.

Mary Regina Boland, Nicholas Tatonetti and other researchers at the Columbia University Department of Medicine examined records for an incredible 1.75 million patients born between 1900 and 2000 who had been treated at Columbia University Medical Center. Using statistical analysis, they combed through 1,688 different diseases and found 55 that had a correlation with birth month, including ADHD, reproductive performance, asthma, eyesight and ear infections.

... For respiratory, reproductive and neurological illnesses, people born in October and November were more at risk. For cardiovascular disease, those born from September through December were more protected, while those born in winter and spring (January to June) had higher risk. And since so many lives are cut short due to cardiovascular diseases, being born in the autumn was actually associated with living longer than being born in the spring.

...Tatonetti, the principal investigator, said it’s not yet clear exactly why some diseases are prevalent in certain birth months, but that it likely often has to do with the environment that a baby is born into, including seasonal variations in vitamin D and allergens.

Apparently, I lucked out by being born in July. And October and November look like bad news.

I do wonder whether these results are peculiar to people born in a northeastern U.S. climate.

Who knows what they'll do with big data next?

H/t Kevin Drum.

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