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  #1  
Old 25 December 2008, 07:05 PM
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Icon97 Blame Mom for winter babies' reduced station in life

A large body of research suggests that, on average, winter babies grow up to be less educated, less intelligent, less healthy and lower paid than people born in the spring, summer or fall. Scientists have blamed the winter babies' woes on everything from the weather to age cutoffs for school.

And now, a pair of University of Notre Dame economists have come up with an explanation they say could account for half of the discrepancy observed between winter babies and babies born during the rest of the year: Mom.

Babies born in the winter are more likely to have mothers who are unmarried teenagers who lack a high-school diploma.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/...r-babies_N.htm
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  #2  
Old 25 December 2008, 07:13 PM
purpleiguana purpleiguana is offline
 
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Nice to know ahead of time that my baby is doomed. Or did I dodge that particular bullet because I'm a married 30-something?

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Surveys repeatedly show that winter is women's least desirable season in which to give birth, Buckles and Hungerman write. Perhaps, they theorize, those who are better-educated and wealthier have better control over the timing of their children's births.
Least desirable... oh really?? Cuz, ya know, as much as this pregnancy is jacking up my internal thermostat, I sooooo had my heart set on delivering in July!
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  #3  
Old 26 December 2008, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by snopes View Post
A large body of research suggests that, on average, winter babies grow up to be less educated, less intelligent, less healthy and lower paid than people born in the spring, summer or fall. Scientists have blamed the winter babies' woes on everything from the weather to age cutoffs for school.
My husband's birthday is December 19th. He graduated both with his undergraduate and master's degress with high honors. He has only called in sick about five days in as many years; the man barely gets a cold! (It's really annoying. ) He makes a good living, too.

So there, it's all wrong, nyah!
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  #4  
Old 26 December 2008, 08:43 PM
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It seems there are an awful lot of "mights" and "speculate"s in that article.

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Consider that heat impairs sperm, which might explain the springtime dip nine months after summer in births to lower socioeconomic women.
Ummm, OK, but how does that explain why poor women would have more babies in the winter.

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Amitabh Chandra, a public-policy professor at Harvard who previously has collaborated with Buckles, called her study with Hungerman "impeccable."
I think I disagree.
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  #5  
Old 26 December 2008, 09:08 PM
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Hmmm..........lets see, me, born in winter; B.Sc. , MA, Ph.D. Neuropsychology Post Doc. Brothers born in winter? Oil company exec, emergency services worker, reporter, utilities company repair worker for 20 year. The one brother born in summer? high scool teacher. Quite the spread of talents but all doing well. We must be an outliers.
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  #6  
Old 26 December 2008, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by purpleiguana View Post
Nice to know ahead of time that my baby is doomed. Or did I dodge that particular bullet because I'm a married 30-something?
Aside from the fact that were talking about (probably relatively small) differences in correlation, that's kind of the point of the article...that a big part of the eventual differences between babies born in winter and those born in other months are due to socioeconomic reasons. That babies born in winter are less conventionally successful seems to be a well documented fact. They are trying to find out why.



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Least desirable... oh really?? Cuz, ya know, as much as this pregnancy is jacking up my internal thermostat, I sooooo had my heart set on delivering in July!
I don't think your sarcasm is warranted. According to the article, this has been repeatedly shown in surveys - it's not like they just made it up. The fact that you don't agree with what is apparently a majority does not make their claim in any way ridiculous.

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Originally Posted by lyra_silvertongue View Post
It seems there are an awful lot of "mights" and "speculate"s in that article.
Yes, but it is crucial to remember that you are reading a newspaper article about the research, not the research article itself. And the media loves to sensationalize things (although this is actually not nearly as bad as many articles on research that I have seen), and that often means catching someone's attention by focusing on the speculation about the broader implications of the work (which is generally a much smaller part of the actual research article). They don't focus on the actual research itself because, frankly, it's boring to most readers. Plus real in-depth analysis requires more work than the journalists probably want to put in to it.

Plus speculation is a key part of any research. Of course, generally academics would call it something like "formulating new hypothesis in response to data." But it's really the same thing. One designs and experiment to test a hypothesis, and after the data are analyzed new hypotheses in line with those data are designed, and those can in turn be analyzed with new experiments.



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Ummm, OK, but how does that explain why poor women would have more babies in the winter.
That one I don't quite get myself, frankly. Although maybe the article just explains it badly.



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I think I disagree.
Unless you have read the research article itself (and are knowledgeable about such things), I don't think you are in a position to comment on the quality of their research. Their conclusions are perfectly reasonable at least given the article's summary, and of real importance.

ETA: I haven't been able to find a copy of the research article freely available to me, but I did find the abstract here on the NBER page. The emphasis is clearly different from that of the USA Today article, as I expected, and much less speculative. The weather link mentioned above (which I still don't get) is not explained in the abstract - presumably it is in the article.

Quote:
Abstract:
Research has found that season of birth is associated with later health and professional outcomes; what drives this association remains unclear. In this paper we consider a new explanation: that children born at different times in the year are conceived by women with different socioeconomic characteristics. We document large seasonal changes in the characteristics of women giving birth throughout the year in the United States. Children born in the winter are disproportionally born to women who are more likely to be teenagers and less likely to be married or have a high school degree. We show that controls for family background characteristics can explain up to half of the relationship between season of birth and adult outcomes. We then discuss the implications of this result for using season of birth as an instrumental variable; our findings suggest that, though popular, season-of-birth instruments may produce inconsistent estimates. Finally, we find that some of the seasonality in maternal characteristics is due to summer weather differentially affecting fertility patterns across socioeconomic groups.
ETAA: I did manage to find the article for free to me, but only through a university library which I have access to (from basically the same site, but accessed from said university library page. Anyone else with similar access can likely access the paper. I'll let you know what I think later.

Last edited by Jahungo; 26 December 2008 at 11:32 PM.
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  #7  
Old 27 December 2008, 10:32 AM
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The only thing I've felt from being a Winter child is that I love Winter. I love to feel cold more than I love to feel hot and I don't cope well when the weather is 'good'. Though that has probably little to do with being born in January and more to do with having good experiences of Winter and bad ones of warm weather.
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  #8  
Old 27 December 2008, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Zorro View Post
My husband's birthday is December 19th. He graduated both with his undergraduate and master's degress with high honors. He has only called in sick about five days in as many years; the man barely gets a cold! (It's really annoying. ) He makes a good living, too.

So there, it's all wrong, nyah!
The article did explain that "winter babies" were those born in January, February and March.

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Originally Posted by lyra_silvertongue View Post
Ummm, OK, but how does that explain why poor women would have more babies in the winter.
One possible reason offered by the article is that folks with less money are less likely to have air conditioning.
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  #9  
Old 27 December 2008, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Barbara View Post

One possible reason offered by the article is that folks with less money are less likely to have air conditioning.
So they're having more sex in the summer? I'm still not sure I follow.
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  #10  
Old 27 December 2008, 08:28 PM
purpleiguana purpleiguana is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Jahungo View Post
Aside from the fact that were talking about (probably relatively small) differences in correlation, that's kind of the point of the article...that a big part of the eventual differences between babies born in winter and those born in other months are due to socioeconomic reasons. That babies born in winter are less conventionally successful seems to be a well documented fact. They are trying to find out why.
Correlation does not impress me. Causation does. If they're saying that winter babies tend to do poorly and that winter babies tend to be born into less than ideal circumstances, then I'm more willing to believe that those less than ideal circumstances contribute more to the babies doing poorly than the season in which they're born.
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I don't think your sarcasm is warranted.
I disagree. You are, however, welcome to your opinion. Can't please everyone all the time.
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  #11  
Old 28 December 2008, 05:59 AM
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I would not be able to judge the research even if I had access to it --but I do question the premise -- that winter babies are less successful than babies born the other times of the year. And I also wonder where the idea that more poor people have babies in winter came from. What population did the idea for the premise come from. Where did the statistics come from showing more poor people give birth in winter? How impeccible can reseach be if it's based on a flawed premise (that's not sarcasm, that's a sincere question). I could probably proove that poor people are more inherently honest than rich people (and probably from there speculate that you can't be rich if you are honest) if I carefully chose the population for my study, or limited my definition of honesty to people who didn't cheat on their taxes. (well maybe I couldn't -- but a researcher probably could).
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Old 29 December 2008, 12:05 PM
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DH was born Jan. 18th. He graduated from high school with honors, has 2 Masters degrees AND a PhD and was hired at a private college. He can do hard math in his head and is an anagram freak.

I was born March 24th. I hated school from about 4th grade and was lucky to have gotten an AAS degree (that I've done nothing with) and I still do math on my fingers.

I think this study is a load of pooh.
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Old 29 December 2008, 12:38 PM
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I was born March 20th- where do *I* fit in?
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  #14  
Old 29 December 2008, 12:49 PM
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Born 3rd June, right in the middle of summer, and as thick as pigs**t. I think the researchers missed me.
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  #15  
Old 29 December 2008, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by lyra_silvertongue View Post
So they're having more sex in the summer? I'm still not sure I follow.
Springtime would be 9 months prior to winter. So they would have sex in spring, deliver in winter. There would be a dip in births during springtime due to the effects of heat on sperm.
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Old 29 December 2008, 12:59 PM
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Just to hijack, my wife is from the Isle of Man.

She was born in early March, all her siblings were born in early March and everyone else I know who lives there was born in early March.

In June they shut off all the roads for the TT, so no-one can leave their house. There is a huge influx of visitors, and the prices of everything go up. So you pretty much have to make your own entertainment.

Wifey does not support the correlation, but I think I'm on to something.
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  #17  
Old 17 February 2009, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by purpleiguana View Post
Nice to know ahead of time that my baby is doomed. Or did I dodge that particular bullet because I'm a married 30-something?
No, no, no. Having had a baby in the winter you are now going to become younger and stupider. Enjoy!
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Old 17 February 2009, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Embra View Post
No, no, no. Having had a baby in the winter you are now going to become younger and stupider. Enjoy!
Ah, but you've learned your lesson. When did you say the next embling is due? Springtime?
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  #19  
Old 17 February 2009, 10:49 AM
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Ah, but you've learned your lesson. When did you say the next embling is due? Springtime?
Actually last Tuesday, the tardy wee thing!
Nothing better for fine lines and wrinkles...
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  #20  
Old 17 February 2009, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by purpleiguana View Post
Correlation does not impress me. Causation does. If they're saying that winter babies tend to do poorly and that winter babies tend to be born into less than ideal circumstances, then I'm more willing to believe that those less than ideal circumstances contribute more to the babies doing poorly than the season in which they're born.
I'm not quite sure where your confusion is coming from, as your second statement seems to be exactly what the researchers are implying. (Of course, the newspaper headline decides to blame Mum, rather than economic issues, which seems to be a general trend for reports on these kinds of study. Why blame complex economic factors when you can blame women instead.)

The study is identifying a co-variable with season (that of economic status) and thus allows it to be removed from consideration. Its not saying that being born in winter causes children to perform less well, the data showing that correlation was already available. The researchers have merely identified that socio-economic factors also correlate with the season of birth, and have thus been able to asses this contribution (half) to the previously observed relationship. Another 50% of the variation remains unexplained, but could be due to another co-variable, or genuinely down to seasonal effects. (I notice that this work is based on US figures. I don't know how the US Schooling system works, but one might hypothesise that part of the variation was down to where the divide between year groups was draw. If so, you'd expect to see different effects in other countries where academic divides were different. Also, to factor out temperature effects, you'd expect the differences to become less pronounced closer to the equator.)

I'd provide more information, but don't have access to the journal. I might try later through the university, rather than the lab, proxy but don't hold out much hope.

Also, the number of people trotting out anecdotes as though that refutes everything is frankly a little silly. These kind of situations never deal with absolutes.
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