A new algorithm developed by scientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) supports previously reported associations between a person’s birth month and overall disease risk, including 16 new links that include nine types of heart disease. The study was published in the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association.
Prior studies have suggested a relationship between individual diseases (such as asthma and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]) and birth season, but this is the first large-scale study to compare rates of 1,688 diseases and the birth dates and medical histories of 1.7 million patients treated at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/CUMC from 1985–2013. More than 1,600 associations were eliminated and 39 previously reported links were confirmed, along with 16 new associations that included nine types of heart disease; risk of atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, and mitrial valve disorder was highest in those born in March. Previously, a study on Austrian and Danish patient records found that those born in months with higher heart disease rates (March through June) had earlier mortality rates.
You don’t think conception in the summertime (June through September) might have had something to do with it, do you?
Asthma risk was greatest among those born in July and October babies; this is consistent with an earlier Danish study in which the peak risk was in the months when Denmark’s sunlight levels are similar to New York’s in the July and October period (May and August). Data on ADHD matched those from a Swedish study suggesting that one in 675 ADHD diagnoses are for those born in November.
And if November children were more susceptible to ADHD, wouldn’t you expect at least one, or more, in twelve diagnoses? (Hey, look, a squirrel!)
Just the sheer number of potential ailments is enough to give Bill Quick reason to question the results:
The first red flag is the number of diseases used in the study — 1,688. I suspect that some correlations are inevitable with that large a number, whether there is any actual causal connection at all.
There’s always the astrological connection, and we all know how well that works.