In utero health may affect life's success

Aug 07, 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: GOP senators pledge help if court bars health law subsidies

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

People use handshakes to sniff each other out

2 hours ago

Limp or firm, your handshake conveys subliminal social cues. Now, research reveals it also transmits chemical signals that could explain why the greeting evolved in the first place.

Losing a spouse often too hastily linked to depression

2 hours ago

A new study by researchers at KU Leuven, in Belgium, has found that loneliness brought about by the death of a spouse can trigger a wider network of depression-like symptoms - but that doctors are often too quick to attribute ...

User comments : 0

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.