Many people ascribe to the basics of astrology, reading their horoscopes in the newspaper or taking online tests to see what their sign says about them. But does the time of year you are born in have any actual influence on your life? Numerous studies suggest that children born at certain times of year are healthier, happier, and more successful than others.
Winter versus Summer Children
Researchers suggest that the month in which your child is born can have an impact on everything from health to success with a future career. The biggest differences were noted between children born in the winter and children born in the summer. There are some studies which say that children born between the months of June and October are more likely to be taller and have bigger bones than children born during the winter – this is likely related to the amount of vitamin D exposure during the pregnancy. On average, children born during the summer were 0.5cm taller then children born in the winter based on results from women who were 37 weeks pregnant.
Not only does the month you are born in affect your size, but it can also affect other things like your likelihood of developing food allergies. Autumn and winter babies develop food allergies at a higher rate than other children. Asthma may also be a factor that can be attributed to birth month, especially in children born during the autumn. During the winter, people spend more time inside where they may be exposed to higher levels of dust mites and other indoor allergens. Autumn babies are exposed to these allergens during the first few months of their lives which increases their risk for asthma.
Another thing that can be affected by birth month is vision. Some studies show that children born during the summer months are more likely than winter babies to be short-sighted. This, too may be due to increased sun exposure during pregnancy and during the first few months of the baby’s life. An unborn baby’s eyes open at 26 weeks and even when the baby is still in the uterus, it can sense light glowing through the mother’s belly.
Health Implications of Certain Birth Months
When considering the health implications of being born in a certain month it is important to remember that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. While children born during a certain month might have a greater tendency to develop heart disease, there likely are other factors at play than just the birth month alone. Below you will find a list of health problems that have been correlated with certain birth months:
- January – Higher risk of developing Crohn’s disease, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.
- February – Increased risk for death from lung cancer.
- March – Higher risk for certain kinds of heart disease.
- April – Increase risk for becoming an alcoholic or developing an eating disorder.
- May – Lower risk for developing chronic illness.
- June – Higher risk of developing vision problems.
- July – Increased risk for developing autism and asthma.
- August – More likely to be labeled as a problem student.
- September – More likely to live to see 100 years of age.
- October – Higher risk for insect bites, chest infections, and STIs.
- November – More likely to be left-handed, risk for heart problems and lung cancer.
- December – Lower risk for allergies and asthma.
Birth Month and Rate of Development
The month in which your child is born affects more than just his health – it can also have an impact on his education and his success in life. Schools usually have a cut-off date for children both for academics and for sports. For some schools, the cutoff date is January 1st but, for others, it is in September. Many parents believe that the closer their child is to the cut-off date, the greater the advantage they will have over other children in their class.
Take the example of a mother who is expecting a child with a January 3rd due date. The school she plans to send her child to has a January 1st cutoff for birthdays. As long as the baby is born after January 1st, he will be the oldest child in his class. If he is born early, however, he will be the youngest child in his class. Being the oldest child in a class comes with many benefits. For one thing, that child is likely to be larger and more developed than other children. This may play a role in his academic performance and it will certain play a role in his athletic performance, should he choose to play sports.
Because there is so much evidence to suggest that older children have an advantage, many parents do something called “redshirting”. This is the practice of holding back a child for an extra year if his birthdate is too close to the cutoff date. By waiting an extra year to enroll the child in school he will be one of the oldest children in his class instead of the youngest. This practice is particularly common with the parents of kindergarten children.
What Does the Research Say?
While many parents ascribe to the belief that holding back a child so he will be the oldest one in his grade will give him an advantage, actual research does not always support this idea. There are some early studies that suggest a correlation between redshirting and improved social and academic performance – these results are based on test scores, school evaluations, and leadership positions.
More recent studies, however, suggest that the opposite may actually be true. It is the younger children – the ones who barely make the cutoff – who perform better than their older classmates. One Norwegian study following children born between the years of 1962 and 1988 showed that by the age of 18, the children who started school later had lower IQ scores than those a year younger. Furthermore, by the age of 30, men who starts school later were earning less than their younger counterparts.
For as much information that is out there to suggest that children born in certain months have a greater advantage, there is just as much evidence in support of the opposite. It is important to take everything with a grain of salt and to understand that what works for one child may not work for another. It is up to you to assess your own child’s needs when determining whether to start him in school early or to hold him back a year.