The Upside of Being a Fall Baby

The Upside of Being a Fall Baby

Why you should care

’Tis the season of leaf peeping, apple pie spices, pumpkin decor — and a little bit more luck for babies born at this time of year. 

If you have a birthday that falls between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, consider yourself lucky — you’ve got a leg up on your spring and summer siblings in so many ways.

That’s the upshot of a host of studies from around the world that have tracked fall birth months to taller, stronger, smart, longer-lived adults.

People born from September through the end of November …

People born from September through the end of November …

Not that everything proved beneficial for births that arrived at the time the leaves changed. Fall babies have an increased chance of asthma.

Hypotheses abound as to why fall children have the edge. A reason cited in numerous studies published in academic journals across a spectrum of specialities focuses on nourishment. Women pregnant in the summer and fall have access to a rich bounty of food during prime growing seasons. Those pregnant in winter and spring don’t have the same access to nutrients, and perhaps their unborn children suffer a little.

Winter and spring babies — and their mothers — also have less access to vitamin D in their early/crucial months gained from exposure to sunlight, suggest some scientists. That could also hamper things like bone density.

Another potential reason: seasonal winter viruses. Babies born during winter may be more susceptible to such illness, the thinking goes. But that could also explain the fall children and their asthma rates — exposure to certain cold-weather viruses around three to four months could be a confluence of illness and timing that leads to asthma.

As for the test-taking, the general thinking goes, students born in the fall have the advantage of being the oldest in their classes, born just after the cut-off dates for the new school year. Students born in the summer, for example, could be almost a full year younger than their fall classmates. In early grade school, that could be the difference between a kid ready and excited to read and one falling behind and frustrated — lessons that will stick with them throughout their school careers, according to Britain’s Institute for Fiscal Studies.

A study from the institute found that kids born in August had an 11 percent greater chance of needing special education services, for example. And the IFS goes so far as to call on the government to grade standardized tests — national achievement tests for the Brits — on an age curve, so those born in the spring and summer need fewer points to achieve the valuable “levels” that govern British schooling.

…those born in the spring and summer need fewer points to achieve the valuable “levels” that govern British schooling.

 

Conceiving a child, for many couples, proves difficult, much less timing it. The reasons behind the boost haven’t entirely been nailed down, and if it does have to do with nutrition, perhaps industrialized nations’ access to modern grocery stores and a food chain that spans time zones and climates will help reduce the differentiation. Maybe it’s enough for moms-to-be to pay extra attention to what they consume, when their children enroll in school, and how much sunshine they see.

But for now, children of fall, we salute your luck. Happy birthday.

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