New Study Makes Stronger Connection Between Birth Month & Heart Disease

February 4, 2020

ThedaCare Cardiologist Explains Potential Link

APPLETON, Wis. – A warning to women born in the spring or summer months: pay attention to your heart health. A new study makes a stronger link between girls born in those seasons and a slight, but significant increase in cardiovascular disease deaths later in life.

Simone Fearon, M.D., Medical Director and Physician Leader with ThedaCare Cardiovascular Care, explains at times, she considers woman’s birth month as part of her patients’ medical history. 

“Previous studies have indicated that when and where a woman is born impacts cardiovascular disease,” she said. “This research helps us better understand the possible connection. It emphasizes the need to better educate women born in the spring or summer about their heart and how to keep it healthy.”

She points to this study, unlike other ones, having controls in place for family medical history and socio-economic factors.

The findings add to the growing body of evidence on the topic. Researchers analyzed data from more than 115,000 female nurses in the U.S. between the ages of 30 and 55 who were followed for nearly 40 years (1976-2014). During that time, more than 43,000 of the participants died, including 8,360 deaths from heart disease. Researchers noticed a link with their birth month.

The new research details women born in the months of March to July are at particular risk for dying from cardiovascular disease with April births having the highest risk. Women born in the month of December are at the lowest risk.

Despite these new findings, it still is not clear why the birth month matters. Researchers suspect it might have something to do with seasonal changes in a pregnant woman’s diet and the lack of sunlight before birth. Doctors agree more research needs to be done on how cardiovascular disease risks can be lowered from the earliest stages of life.

Meantime, Dr. Fearon notes with the season a female is born becoming a potential risk factor for heart disease, it’s important for these women to take preventive measures for their cardiovascular health.

“If you’re a spring or summer baby, these findings don’t mean you’re destined to die from cardiovascular disease,” she said. “It is a good starting point for conversations between providers and patients about what steps are being followed to help lower the risk of heart disease.”

Here are some recommendations to help lower the risk of heart disease:

  • Know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers; having high or uncontrolled levels can possibly lead to heart disease
  • Exercise regularly, especially cardio workouts, which elevate your health rate and strengthen your heart muscle
  • Make heart healthy food choices
  • Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake
  • Manage stress by practicing self-care, taking time to step away from life’s responsibilities to relax or socialize with friends.

Dr. Fearon adds women born in autumn or winter months should take up a heart-healthy lifestyle too, citing the leading cause of death for women in American is heart disease, killing nearly 300,000 women or about one in every five.

No matter when women are born, they are at high risk for heart disease if they have one of these three key risk factors: high blood pressure, high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, or smoke. Physicians also are concerned if you have diabetes and are overweight or obese.

“You can help change your future,” said Dr. Fearon. “Women born in spring and summer might have to work harder to do so more than autumn and winter babies, but you can take steps to reduce the risk of heart disease no matter your age or time of year you’re born.”