This graph shows common diseases based on your birthday
Fans of fate can possibly chalk up a rare scientific victory. A study spanning 28 years and 1.7 million patients has found certain correlations between people’s birth months and the diseases they go on to suffer from in later life.
The researchers examined patients admitted to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital between 1985 and 2013, and examined more than 1,600 illnesses. From this wide initial scope, they found a total of 55 diseases that showed a clear correlation with the month patients were born in.
This isn’t entirely unexpected, as scientists had already linked 39 of the diseases highlighted as being more prominent in patients born in certain seasons, but it left 16 associations that had previously gone unnoticed, including nine types of heart disease.
Don’t worry – this isn’t a case of horoscopes triumphing over science. In fact, the correlation has less to do with month as it does with season. Similar studies in Denmark don’t match these findings month by month, but do show a correlation at times of year when sunlight levels match.
You can see some of the strongest connections in the chart above, and I can happily report that my birth month of May is pleasingly clear. No, smugness isn’t a disease.
So, what could this mean? It’s not entirely clear right now. One theory is that it relates to the environment that babies are exposed to from birth, but that’s currently little more than a hunch. The researchers hope that by figuring out the reasons behind the pattern, they can try and compensate for the fluctuations.
Still, it’s important to emphasise that although the differences appear real, they’re far from the most significant risk factor at play. As Nicholas Tatonetti, senior author on the study, explains: “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.”
“The risk related to birth month is relatively minor when compared to more influential variables like diet and exercise.”
In other words, your destiny still remains largely in your hands – although you are slightly more likely to suffer from ADHD if you’re an American born in November, and more likely to need an asthma inhaler if you celebrate your birthday in July.
You can see Tatonetti talking about his research in the video below.