Born in Autumn Live Longer
BERLIN (Reuters) - People born in the autumn live longer than
those born in the spring and are less likely to fall chronically
ill when they are older, an Austrian scientist said Thursday.
Using census data for more than 1 million people in Austria,
Denmark and Australia, scientists at the Max Planck Institute
for Demographic Research in the northern German town of Rostock
found the month of birth was related to life expectancy over the
age of 50.
Seasonal differences in what mothers ate during pregnancy and
infections occurring at different times of the year could both
have an impact on the health of a newborn baby and could influence
its life expectancy.
"A mother giving birth in spring spends the last phase of her
pregnancy in winter, when she will eat less vitamins than in summer,"
said Gabriele Doblhammer, one of a team of scientists who carried
out the research.
"When she stops breast-feeding and starts giving her baby normal
food, it's in the hot weeks of summer when babies are prone to
infections of the digestive system."
Babies born in the autumn weighed more than those born at springtime,
she said. In later life, low birth weight was associated with
increased blood pressure, cholesterol levels, some forms of obesity
and a decrease in lung function.
In Austria, adults born in autumn (October-December) lived about
seven months longer than those born in spring (April-June), and
in Denmark adults with birthdays in autumn outlived those born
in spring by about four months.
In the southern hemisphere, the picture was similar. Adults
born in the Australian autumn-- the European spring--lived about
four months longer than those born in the Australian spring.
The study focused on people born at the beginning of the 20th
century, using death certificates and census data. Although nutrition
at all times of the year has improved since then, the seasonal
pattern persists, Doblhammer said.
In a separate study, Doblhammer analyzed the birth weight of
about 3,000 twins born in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s
and found that those born in spring and summer weighed less than
those born in autumn.
Reference Source 89