Your birth month reveals plenty about your risk for depression, diabetes, and more

·2 min read
Winter baby. (Photo: Stocksy)
Winter baby. (Photo: Stocksy)

We’ve always known that Scorpios are bold and assertive. Thanks to a new study, we also learned that they may have a greater lifetime risk of depression.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, looks at the connection between a baby’s birth month and disease. Data scientists analyzed more than 10 million patients to study the link between a pregnant woman’s exposure to seasonal or environmental factors and potential risk of disease over her baby’s lifetime. It turns out that there may be a link between where you live during pregnancy and health concerns as your baby grows up.

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center pored over health records of babies born in the United States, South Korea, and Taiwan, using birth month as a proxy for environmental exposures. “All of our major findings linking birth seasonal patterns with variance in environmental exposures fit into known mechanistic pathways,” wrote Mary Regina Boland, PhD, the first author on the study. “This is crucial because it demonstrates the utility of our method and further underscores the importance of environmental exposures during development and the impact they may have throughout life.”

The study found that mothers who spent their third trimester in environments with low levels of sunlight were more likely to have babies with a risk of type 2 diabetes. For example, NYC-born babies born between December and March had an increased risk of diabetes over their lifetimes. Pollution also had an effect. NYC mothers whose first trimester was during the summer, when pollution is at its highest, gave birth to children with a higher lifetime risk of atrial fibrillation (also known as abnormal heart rhythm). Mothers who encountered higher does of carbon monoxide during their first trimester were more likely to raise babies with an increased risk of depression and anxiety. A 2015 study found also a link between birth month between July and October and the propensity for asthma.

“Basically, we’re using the data to connect the dots,” study leader Nicholas Tatonetti, PhD said in a statement. “And by clarifying these connections, it may be possible to find new ways to prevent disease–such as recommending seasonal dosing for some prenatal supplements.”

This study is just an early step in determining how environmental factors contribute to health. “Overall, our findings demonstrate the importance of environmental factors, including socio-environmental factors such as relative age, on the development of childhood diseases,” said Dr. Boland.

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