In utero health may affect life's success

August 7, 2006

U.S. scientists have determined prenatal health has a significant influence on a person's lifetime economic success.

Columbia University researchers say it's not inherited traits such as skin tone or height that influences economic success, but, rather, a malleable characteristic -- in utero health -- that most strongly indicates how well a child will fare in adulthood.

The scientists said their study has important implications for public policy, suggesting programs targeting early-life health have higher returns for reducing racial disparities in socioeconomic outcomes than do more traditional investments, including schooling.

The study analyzed adult economic outcomes of those exposed in utero to the 1918 influenza pandemic, which lasted only a few months -- meaning those born a few months apart had markedly different in utero conditions.

The Columbia scientists found children of infected mothers were 15 percent less likely to graduate from high school, and sons of infected mothers earned approximately $2,500 less per year than those who did not have fetal influenza exposure. Additionally, those who were in utero at the height of the epidemic had 20 percent higher disability rates at the age of 61.

The study is detailed in the Journal of Political Economy.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Secondhand smoke takes large physical and economic toll

Related Stories

Secondhand smoke takes large physical and economic toll

September 20, 2012
Secondhand smoke is accountable for 42,000 deaths annually to nonsmokers in the United States, including nearly 900 infants, according to a new UCSF study.

Despite economic blows, infant health has improved among US poor

May 22, 2014
Despite worsening economic conditions for those at the bottom, infant health has steadily improved among the most disadvantaged Americans, according to a review published in Science by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson ...

If you don't have asthma, maybe it's because Mom experienced a sunny second trimester, health economist finds

March 30, 2016
The best way to reduce a child's chances of developing asthma might be making sure Mom had enough vitamin D during the second trimester, a new study from the University of Kansas shows.

Increase in childhood and adult asthma linked to London's 1952 Great Smog

July 8, 2016
London's Great Smog of 1952 resulted in thousands of premature deaths and even more people becoming ill. The five December days the smog lasted may have also resulted in thousands more cases of childhood and adult asthma. ...

9/11 dust cloud may have caused widespread pregnancy issues

August 14, 2014
Pregnant women living near the World Trade Center during 9/11 experienced higher-than-normal negative birth outcomes, according to a new working paper by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International ...

Do genes play a role in peanut allergies? New study suggests yes

February 24, 2015
Researchers have pinpointed a region in the human genome associated with peanut allergy in U.S. children, offering strong evidence that genes can play a role in the development of food allergies.

Recommended for you

Researchers release the brakes on the immune system

October 18, 2017
Many tumors possess mechanisms to avoid destruction by the immune system. For instance, they misuse the natural "brakes" in the immune defense mechanism that normally prevent an excessive immune response. Researchers at the ...

Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays

October 18, 2017
If brain imaging could be compared to Google Earth, neuroscientists would already have a pretty good "satellite view" of the brain, and a great "street view" of neuron details. But navigating how the brain computes is arguably ...

'Wasabi receptor' for pain discovered in flatworms

October 18, 2017
A Northwestern University research team has discovered how scalding heat and tissue injury activate an ancient "pain" receptor in simple animals. The findings could lead to new strategies for analgesic drug design for the ...

Scientists may have found a cause of dyslexia

October 18, 2017
A duo of French scientists said Wednesday they may have found a physiological, and seemingly treatable, cause for dyslexia hidden in tiny light-receptor cells in the human eye.

Newborns with trisomy 13 or 18 benefit from heart surgery, study finds

October 18, 2017
Heart surgery significantly decreases in-hospital mortality among infants with either of two genetic disorders that cause severe physical and intellectual disabilities, according to a new study by a researcher at the Stanford ...

Fighting opioid addiction in primary care—new study shows it's possible

October 18, 2017
For many of the 2 million Americans addicted to opioids, getting good treatment and getting off prescription painkillers or heroin may seem like a far-off dream.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.