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What Your Order of Birth Suggests
About Your Health Destiny

Children have long-been labeled as goal-setters, rebels or spoiled risk-takers depending on their birth order, and some people do, in fact, swear that you can predict a person's personality according to whether they're a first born, a middle child or the baby of the family.

sibling rivalry

Oldest children have IQs that are, on average, three points higher than their younger siblings'.

Now here's something that's a bit more avant-garde: it may also be able to predict your health.

According to "The Order of Health" in Prevention magazine, here's what your birth order may predict about your health.

The Oldest Child

Oldest children have an IQ that is, on average, three points higher than their next youngest sibling, according to research in Science. In turn, researchers from the University of Glasgow found that children with higher IQs have a lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

Meanwhile, oldest children are more likely to suffer from allergies, eczema, hay fever and asthma, according to a review of more than 50 studies. This may be because parents overprotect their firstborns, which means they may be exposed to fewer viruses and bacteria than their siblings.

There is also some evidence that firstborn males have an increased risk of testicular cancer, perhaps because they're exposed to more estrogen in utero.

middle child

Middle children are the most likely to suffer from low self-esteem, which can increase their risk of depression.

The Middle Child

Middle children have healthy gums -- their risk of gum disease is about 5 percent lower than their siblings'.

However, middle children -- who are stereotypically the "overlooked" children -- tend to have lower self-esteem, which can lead to depression. Middle-born kids also have a slightly higher risk of suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome than their siblings.

The Youngest Child

Youngest children have a lower risk of allergies, perhaps because their immune systems got a workout from all of their older siblings' germs. Children who grow up with older siblings are also 10 percent less likely to develop Hodgkin's disease than only children, according to Italian researchers.

The risk to the youngest child comes largely in the form of accidents and preventable diseases. For instance, youngest kids go through puberty about three months earlier than their siblings, and this early puberty can increase their risk-taking behavior, leading them to try things like sex or cigarettes.

What Else Does Your Time of Birth Impact?

Researchers are just beginning to scratch the surface of how your birth order, birth month and birth season can impact your future personality and health. But here are a couple of interesting things to know:

  • Children who were conceived in June, July or August have, on average, test scores for math and language that are 1 percent to 1.5 percent lower than scores of kids who were conceived during other months.

  • The month and season a woman is born affects when she'll reach menopause. Specifically, women born in March can expect to reach menopause the earliest, on average at 48 years and 9 months, while October babies will reach it the latest, at 50 years and 3 months.

But remember, while some researchers believe your birth order is intricately intertwined with your personality, your health and how you relate to the world, others think it's a long shot. So, ultimately, your destiny may be in your hands, regardless of your status as oldest, middle or youngest child.

Recommended Reading

Why Babies Conceived in Summer Don't Do as Well in School

Food Allergies Last Longer Than They Used To: Food Allergy Facts You Need to Know


The New York Times June 21, 2007

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