A team of data scientists has found connections between birth month and health. 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.
Overall, the study indicated people born in May had the lowest disease risk, and those born in October the highest and as per senior author Nicholas Tatonetti, this data could help scientists uncover new disease risk factors.
The study ruled out more than 1,600 associations and confirmed 39 links previously reported in the medical literature. The researchers also uncovered 16 new associations, including nine types of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. The researchers performed statistical tests to check that the 55 diseases for which they found associations did not arise by chance.
Tatonetti added that 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, noting that the risk related to birth month is relatively minor when compared to more influential variables like diet and exercise.
The researchers also found a relationship between birth month and nine types of heart disease, with people born in March facing the highest risk for atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, and mitral valve disorder. One in 40 atrial fibrillation cases may relate to seasonal effects for a March birth.
Lead author Mary Regina Boland said that faster computers and electronic health records are accelerating the pace of discovery, they are working to help doctors solve important clinical problems using this new wealth of data.
The study appears in the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association.