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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e56425. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056425. Epub 2013 Feb 15.

Month of birth and mortality in Sweden: a nation-wide population-based cohort study.

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Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Department of Medicine, Solna, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.



Month of birth--an indicator for a variety of prenatal and early postnatal exposures--has been associated with life expectancy in adulthood. On the northern hemisphere, people born in the autumn live longer than those born during the spring. Only one study has followed a population longitudinally and no study has investigated the relation between month of birth and mortality risk below 50 years.


In this nation-wide Swedish study, we included 6,194,745 subjects, using data from population-based health and administrative registries. The relation between month of birth (January-December) and mortality risk was assessed by fitting Cox proportional hazard regression models using attained age as the underlying time scale. Analyses were made for ages >30, >30 to 50, >50 to 80 and >80 years. Month of birth was a significant predictor of mortality in the age-spans >30, >50 to 80, and >80 years. In models adjusted for gender and education for ages >30 and >50 to 80 years, the lowest mortality was seen for people born in November and the highest mortality in those born in the spring/summer, peaking in May for mortality >30 years (25‰ excess hazard ratio compared to November, [95% confidence interval = 16-34 ]) and in April for mortality >50 to 80 years (42‰ excess hazard ratio compared to November, [95% confidence interval = 30-55]). In the ages >80 years the pattern was similar but the differences in mortality between birth months were smaller. For mortality within the age-span >30 to 50 years, results were inconclusive.


Month of birth is associated to risk of mortality in ages above 50 years in Sweden. Further studies should aim at clarifying the mechanisms behind this association.

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