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Season of birth predicts mortality in rural Gambia


We present evidence that events in early life strongly influence the adult survival prospects of rural Africans. Our analysis of births and deaths in three Gambian villages dating back to 1949 shows that people born during the annual ‘hungry season’ are up to 10 times more likely to die prematurely in young adulthood. A permanent effect of malnutrition on the development of the immune system during fetal growth seems a likely explanation.

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Figure 1: Kaplan-Meier survival plots for rural Gambians divided by season of birth.


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Moore, S., Cole, T., Poskitt, E. et al. Season of birth predicts mortality in rural Gambia. Nature 388, 434 (1997).

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