Winter Babies Come From Less-Privileged Families

Kim Conte

Uh oh. Here's another one of those frustrating studies, but this one deserves some comment (and possibly criticism?).

For a long time now, experts have believed that children born in winter months test poorly, don't get as far in school, earn less, are less healthy, and don't live as long as children born at other times of year.

Reasons posed for this pattern have included everything from Vitamin D deficiency, to the fact that being put in the same school year with children who are mostly younger might make children born in the winter less socially mature.

But none of these explanations have actually been proven.

Now researches think they have the answer to why children born in winter do more poorly in life: Winter babies are more likely to come from less-privileged families.


Specifically, researchers examined birth certificates between 1989 and 2001 and determined that the percentage of children born to unwed mothers, teenage mothers, and mothers who hadn't completed high school peaked in January every year. Therefore, they determined that the reason for season-of-birth differences is because women of different socioeconomic backgrounds tend to have children at different times of the year.

And now they are speculating why less-privileged women tend to have babies in the winter. So far, their reasons include:

  • Married women tend to conceive when unemployment is higher.
  • Families with less means are less likely to have air conditioning. This, in turn, affects their fertility on a seasonal basis so that they are less likely to conceive when it's hot in the summer and more likely to conceive during the cooler spring period.
  • The "prom effect."

Do you have a winter baby? Are you going to have a winter baby? What do you think of this study?


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