May Baby? Lucky You. October? Not So Much

Born in May?  Lucky for you.  How about October?  Not so much.

Apparently the month you were born in can tell you a lot about your health.  (I was born in June.  Does it count that I was born four days late, and was actually due in May?)

Turns out Columbia University scientists have developed a computational method to investigate the relationship between birth month and disease risk. The researchers used this algorithm to examine New York City medical databases and found 55 diseases that correlated with the season of birth.

But before you start panicking, by identifying what's causing disease disparities by birth month, researchers hope to figure out how they might close the gap.Earlier research on individual diseases such as ADHD and asthma suggested a connection between birth season and incidence, but no large-scale studies had been undertaken. This motivated Columbia's scientists to compare diseases against birth dates and health histories.

And they found 55 diseases where associations did not arise by chance.  

My son was also born in June (we have a week of birthdays, mine on the 2nd, my husband on the 3rd and Phillip on the 8th -- don't ask what the first week of June is like in our house!).

So does this mean we're going to live long and healthy lives?  I sure hope so, but I've been diagnosed twice with cancer so I'm not so sure.  

"It's important not to get overly nervous about these results because even though we found significant associations the overall disease risk is not that great," comforts study senior author Nicholas Tatonetti, PhD, an assistant professor of biomedical informatics at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and Columbia's Data Science Institute. "The risk related to birth month is relatively minor when compared to more influential variables like diet and exercise."

This actually is not so new.  Scientists have known for some time that asthma risk is highest for babies born in July and October (again, I was born in June, and I have asthma).  Want to be spooked?  The Columbia data suggest that around one in 675 occurrences could relate to being born in New York in November.

But the really worst month to be born, it would seem, is March.  Seems those born in March face the highest risk for atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, and mitral valve disorder.  But I'm not out of the woods yet. 

Those born in months with higher heart disease rates--March through June--had shorter life spans.

But I'm not going to let it bother me.  I  kind of believe our days are marked out even before we're born.   But still, think I'm going to double up on that jogging, and spinach.



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