Seasonality of Birth: Is There a Link between Primal Health Research and Astrology?
Odent, Michel, Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health
ABSTRACT: Health from a pre- and perinatal (primal period) perspective has been mostly a theoretical construct. However, in the last 20 years, published studies have confirmed the effects of environmental factors occurring pre- and perinatally and the development of a number of diseases. These indicators point to the fact that we should continue exploring links between the date of birth (or the date of conception) and a great variety of human health conditions, such as, diseases, abnormalities, personality traits, as well as states of health. However, the effects of the environment in modern times may be much less apparent.
KEY WORDS: Astrology, season of birth, pre- and perinatal, primal period, birth year.
Our health is, to a great extent, shaped during the 'primal period' (from conception until the first birthday). This was the main conclusion of my book 'Primal Health', published in the mid-1980s (Odent, 2002), based on theoretical considerations rather than on hard data that were not then available. At that time we could only anticipate that environmental factors and other events occurring during the period when our basic adaptive systems (those involved in what we commonly call health) are being established should have life long consequences. With the progress of information technology, especially the use of computers, we could anticipate that the development of the new branch of 'epidemiology" that we call 'primal health research' would support our theoretical basis. This framework includes all studies exploring correlations between what happened during the primal period and what will happen later on in life in terms of health and behaviour.
During the past twenty years 'Primal Health Research' developed at such a speed that in the mid 1990s I found it necessary to establish and to constantly update the 'Primal Health Research Data Bank'.
A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
A Productive Keyword
In 2005, among the hundreds of keywords our database offers, some lead to a great number of studies. 'Seasonality of birth' is one example. It confirms the determinant effects of environmental factors during the primal period. It seems obvious that prenatal and early postnatal environments are related to the season of birth. In many societies the food consumed by pregnant women and lactating mothers is highly influenced by the season. The risks of having certain viral diseases (e.g., the flu) are undoubtedly higher during certain months. The ambient temperatures, and therefore the activities of the thermoregulatory systems, fluctuate according to the rhythm of the seasons. Furthermore, we learned recently about the light-dark sensitivity of the pineal gland. The release of its hormone melatonin occurs mostly at night, and is therefore related to the comparative duration of light. In general, there are seasonal variations in hormonal balances. For example higher levels of testosterone in spring compared to autumn have been reported in females.
It is also predictable that the long-term effects of the month of birth are linked to the place of birth. The hemisphere and the latitude should be taken into consideration.
A great diversity of entries in the database can be accessed via the keyword 'seasonally of birth'. This is evidence that the time and place of birth have effects on humans. Among the characteristics that have been studied from this perspective, we found lifespan, height, degree of fecundity, learning abilities, handedness, psychological traits and tendencies to particular diseases.
An authoritative German inquiry, by demographic researchers at the Max Planck Institute, was based on population data with more than a million observations (Doblhammer & Vaupel, 2001). In two countries of the Northern hemisphere (Austria and Denmark) people born in autumn (October-December) live longer than those born in spring (April-June). …