Season of birth correlations is not astrology

Astrology-related? Nope. In fact, it’s not even a new concept. But looking back through research history, findings are muddled and confusing.

Season of birth affects your mood later in life.

Babies born in the summer are much more likely to suffer from mood swings when they grow up while those born in the winter are less likely to become irritable adults, scientists claim.

Researchers studied 400 people and matched their personality type to when in the year they were born.

The scientists, from Budapest, said this was because the seasons had an influence on certain monoamine neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, which control mood, however more research was needed to find out why.

They discovered that the number of people with a “cyclothymic” temperament, characterised by rapid, frequent swings between sad and cheerful moods, was significantly higher in those born in the summer.

The study is being presented at the annual conference of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) in Berlin, Germany, on Sunday.

I recalled such statements from years ago. So, off to trusty Google search:

Research into environmental factors and brain development has been going on for a long time. This paper by Richard Wiseman from 2005 summarizes the research into neuropsychology. It’s complicated but there may be something to it as a small trend based on various environmental factors AND where you live, obviously.

As an example of the complication, take a look at these results…

Birth Defects Tied to Season of Conception (2009)

Spring and early summer means a 3% higher risk for conceiving a child with birth defects in the U.S. possibly due to pesticide load but this has not been solidly confirmed.

Winter Birth May Affect Baby’s Personality: Mouse Study (2010)

A mice study showed that animals born in winter showed dramatic disruptions in their biological clocks possibly leading to the higher risk associated with Winter birth and mental health disorders.

Season of Birth May Affect the Rest of Your Life (2011)

Spring babies are more likely to suffer from anorexia nervosa as adults but also schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis and even Type 1 diabetes. Babies born in the fall have a higher risk of having food allergies,

Being Born in Winter Can Mess With Your Head (2012)

The season of birth may affect everything from eyesight and eating habits to birth defects and personality later in life. Past research has also hinted the season one is born in might affect mental health, with scientists suggesting a number of reasons for this apparent effect.

The rate of contracting flu or lacking Vitamin D were mentioned as possible reasons. Once again, mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder had statistically significant peaks in January, and lows in the summer.

In other words, there is a gigantic array of reasons why your birth month MAY leave you more susceptible to certain conditions but the statistical effects are small. It’s got nothing to do with astrology and it’s not worth worrying about. So do not read this thinking, “Oh, I was born in Winter so I’ll have psychological disorders”. That’s not how it works.

Tip: Gary Goldberg

  3 comments for “Season of birth correlations is not astrology

  1. Tom
    October 21, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    How any of this can be separated from the date and conditions at the time of conception or the relative health of each partner at that time is a little beyond me

  2. Lagaya1
    October 21, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    I wouldn’t doubt that the difference, if there is one, is more to do with the parenting rather than the child. Many people have “winter blues” (SAD), probably making bonding with a new infant more difficult. There is also more stress for many people in the winter… dead batteries in the car, snow to shovel, uncomfortable conditions, seasonal sickness. A new baby is probably not given as much attention as it deserves in some cases. As it grows up, it probably reflects these poor conditions.

  3. Richard
    October 24, 2014 at 7:10 AM

    Just from this blog entry, but not actually reading the studies, it really seems there is plenty of conflicting data.

    Study A: “Babies born in the summer are much more likely to suffer from mood swings [bi-polar?] when they grow up”
    Study B: “… bipolar disorder [mood swings?] had statistically significant peaks in January, and lows in the summer.”

    Study B: “mental disorders like schizophrenia … had statistically significant peaks in January”
    Study C: “Spring babies are more likely to suffer from … schizophrenia”

    My bet is that a mega-study would not show enough consistency to really indicate that “the season” of birth has any significant effect. Rather, a great many variables are at play — some of which may be related to seasonal issues.

Comments are closed.