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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 104616, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.4061/2011/104616
Research Article

Season of Birth and Exceptional Longevity: Comparative Study of American Centenarians, Their Siblings, and Spouses

Center on Economics and Demography of Aging, NORC at the University of Chicago, 1155 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

Received 18 February 2011; Revised 11 August 2011; Accepted 30 September 2011

Academic Editor: Peter Martin

Copyright © 2011 Leonid A. Gavrilov and Natalia S. Gavrilova. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This study explores the effects of month of birth (a proxy for early-life environmental influences) on the chances of survival to age 100. Months of birth for 1,574 validated centenarians born in the United States in 1880–1895 were compared to the same information obtained for centenarians' 10,885 shorter-lived siblings and 1,083 spouses. Comparison was conducted using a within-family analysis by the method of conditional logistic regression, which allows researchers to control for unobserved shared childhood or adulthood environment and common genetic background. It was found that months of birth have significant long-lasting effect on survival to age 100: siblings born in September–November have higher odds to become centenarians compared to siblings born in March. A similar month-of-birth pattern was found for centenarian spouses. These results support the idea of early-life programming of human aging and longevity.