Linda Lewis Griffith

This day is the most popular birthday in the United States

The Dallas Morning News/TNS

Is your birthday this week? You’re in good company.

More people in the U.S. are born on Sept. 16 than any other day of the year, according to data compiled by Harvard’s Amitabh Chandra and published in The New York Times in 2006. The least common days are Dec. 25 and Feb. 29.

The most popular birth month is August. Statistics tabulated between 1996 and 2006 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 9 percent of all births occurred during those 31 days. Next in line came September and July.

I noticed this trend while working on my family’s genealogy. A disproportionate number of birthdays across multiple generations were clustered in the late summer and early fall.

CDC statistician Paul Sutton hypothesizes that dropping temperatures in autumn draw folks indoors and into their bedrooms. Nine months later, a late-summer baby arrives on the scene.

This pattern varies slightly throughout the world.

For instance, a study conducted by the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Kitakyushu, Japan, found that that country experiences two annual peaks in birth rate, one lasting from December to February and the other in August and September. Researchers suggest that the popularity of springtime marriages and seasonal temperature fluctuations both played a role. The website Statistics New Zealand states that the most common birthday in that country is Sept. 30, with the 10 most frequent birthdays all appearing between Sept. 22 and Oct. 1.

Of course, we can’t control when we arrive into the world. But there may be more at stake than the season when we blow out our candles. Scientists at Columbia University used an algorithm to uncover correlations between birth month and 55 medical conditions. The study, published June 8, 2015, in ScienceDaily, found that people born in May had the lowest risk of disease. Those born in October had the highest.

Specifically, the incidence of asthma was greatest for people born in July and October. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was more frequent in children born in New York in November. Babies born in March faced a higher risk of future heart disease, including atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure and mitral valve disorder.

A previous study using Austrian and Danish patient records found that infants born in March through June had shorter life spans. The results corroborate findings from previous studies.

“The data could help scientists uncover new disease risk factors,” said senior study author Nicholas Tatonetti, assistant professor of biomedical informatics at Columbia University Medical Center.

But he added, “It’s important not to get overly nervous about these results because even though we found significant associations … the risk related to birth month is relatively minor when compared to more influential variables like diet and exercise.”

The takeaway message seems clear. Control what we can. Don’t fret about what we can’t. And celebrate every birthday that comes our way.

Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her, visit www.lindalewisgriffith.com.

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