Is your disease risk written in your date of birth?

June 21, 2015 − by Suzanne Elvidge − in Big data, Big data in research, Data mining − No Comments

Astrologers believe that your fate is written in the stars at the time of your birth goes back to the third millennium BCE or before. While this view isn’t supported by science, there is evidence from datamining that the month of your birth could actually have an impact on your risk of disease, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

statistical relationship between birth month and disease incidence

Credit: Dr. Nick Tatonetti/Columbia University Medical Center

There have been a number of studies that show links between birth month and conditions, including atherothrombosis, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), myopia, immune disorders, type I diabetes, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, and reproduction, as well as lifespan. This study used datamining to expand the research, looking into season of birth and lifetime disease risk for 1688 conditions.

The team from Columbia University looked at records of 1,749,400 records of patients at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and used logistic regression to look into links between birth month and outcomes.

“This [research] could help scientists uncover new disease risk factors,” says Nicholas Tatonetti of Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and Columbia’s Data Science Institute.

The analysis found 55 diseases with significant links with birth month, with validation of 39 existing connections. This included confirming an asthma link with specific light levels – asthma risk peaked in babies born in July and October in this study, corresponding with peaks in Denmark for babies born in May and August, when the light levels are similar. Results also tied in with existing studies for ADHD.

The researchers found 16 new connections between birth month and disease risk, including with nine types of heart disease. People born in March facing the highest risk for atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, and mitral valve disorder, and one in 40 atrial fibrillation cases may relate to seasonal effects for a March birth.

“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,” says Tatonetti. “The risk related to birth month is relatively minor when compared to more influential variables like diet and exercise.”

Generally, babies born in May had the lowest risk of disease, and those born in October had the highest risk. The next step will be to carry out the same analysis of data from other sites, both within the US and overseas, to look at different environmental impacts.

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