Autumn-born children stronger than their peers

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UK researchers have discovered that children born during the autumn months are stronger and physically fitter than their peers.

Physiologists based at Essex University’s Centre for Sports and Exercise Science examined the stamina and physical strength of 8500 school-aged girls and boys from state schools within Essex. It was found that children who had been born during November performed much better than those who were born earlier in the year.

The students were required to participate in various exercises designed to test the strength of their grip, lower body power and cardio respiratory fitness. It was found that on average boys who had been born in November were able to run 10% faster, jump 12% higher and were up to 15% stronger than students who had been born April, in the northern hemisphere.

The study could not determine if the season was relevant or if it was related to the ages of the other children in the same school year.

It has been a suggestion for many years that the oldest children in a particular year group have a developmental advantage as regards physical and academic performance. The study has indicated that children born in the first half of the academic year, which commences during September in the UK, were among the highest performers in the group for their year.

A Clinical Physiologist at Essex University, Gavin Sandercock, said that those born during autumn have a distinct physical advantage and this may be the reason for the bias in sports selection, particularly when the September cut-off for the British school year is used.

Professor Adrian Bauman from Sydney University’s Prevention Research Collaboration has stated that it is too early to suggest to parents that they start conceiving at particular times of year. He stated that the study is a mere observation of data and no theory to its suggestion has been proposed. He added that experts are aware that fitness increases with age during childhood, but it is difficult to imagine that there would be a seasonal influence which has not been recognised previously.

Professor Bauman has spent time on the analysis of data within the Australian population and has noted that if there was an impact of seasons on physical fitness, it would be conceivable to suggest that all elite athletes would be born in the same months. He added that elite athletes are born in a varied distribution across the months in the year as is the case among the general public. There is evidence of some peak birthday, but there is no seasonal correlation.

He further stated that the study indicated an interesting observation, but that it is speculative.

Image Credit: Peter Lindberg

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