12 Jun Spring Babies Have Highest Lifetime Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Tatonetti: For decades, researchers have studied the link between disease incidence and the seasons. We’ve known, for example, that those born when the dust mite population is highest (summer) will have an increased chance of developing asthma. Traditionally, diseases have been studied one at a time to identify these seasonal trends. Because of the rapid adoption of electronic health records, it is now possible to study thousands of diseases, simultaneously. That is what we did in this study. We evaluated over 1,600 diseases and discovered 55 that showed this seasonal trend. Many of these had been studied previously, but several are new discoveries — most prominently, we found that the lifetime risk of developing cardiovascular disease is highest for those born in the spring.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Tatonetti: This is from the press release:
“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,” notes Dr. Tatonetti. “The risk related to birth month is relatively minor when compared to more influential variables like diet and exercise.”
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Tatonetti: Probably the most exciting aspect of this study is that it opens up new avenues of research into the environmental causes of disease. In particular, we are interested in identify what the exposures are that drive the association we found between birth month and cardiovascular disease. If we can identify these environmental mechanisms we may be able to mitigate risk in the future or design new therapies.
Birth Month Affects Lifetime Disease Risk: A Phenome-Wide Method
Mary Regina Boland , Zachary Shahn , David Madigan , George Hripcsak , Nicholas P. Tatonetti
Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association
First published online: 3 June 2015
Link to press release:
Nicholas Tatonetti, PhD, Department of Biomedical Informatics, Department of Systems Biology, Department of Medicine, Columbia University, New York, NY (2015). Spring Babies Have Highest Lifetime Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Last Updated on June 12, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD