Study: Children born in the fall more athletic?

Do you dream of having a child who grows up to be a superstar athlete? Or at least one who isn't picked last in gym class? You might want to take a look at this.

"There's a new study in the Journal of International Sports Medicine that found that children born in the fall have an edge when it comes to physical fitness." (Via ABC)  

The Guardian reports researchers at the University of Essex in Great Britain studied more than 8,000 children ages 10-16 for three measures of fitness: stamina, handgrip strength and lower-body power.

Researcher Gavin Sandercock says: "A boy born in November can run at least 10% faster, jump 12% higher and is 15% more powerful than a child of the same age born in April." (Via The Guardian)

So what makes a November baby more likely to be the next LeBron and an April baby more likely to watch on the sidelines? The researchers hypothesize the cause is the sun. 

Babies who are in their final stage of development during the hotter summer months have increased intrauterine vitamin D levels. (Via Flickr / Art G.)

Researchers such as Victoria Drake say vitamin D acts as a hormone in the body that helps regulate skeletal growth and muscle strength. (Via Oregon State University, National Institutes of Health)

But another explanation could be something we're doing instead of a natural cause.

For years researchers have been studying birth month phenomena. The BBC reports in 2009, 57 percent of players in professional English youth academies had been September, November or December babies, and a mere 14 percent were born in June, July or August.

The theory of relative age effect says the September cutoff dates we impose in school allow children with birthdays immediately after the cutoff to be almost a year older than those born in July and August. According to the BBC, this means they're more physically developed than their classmates.

Because sports today are often through structured leagues, this early advantage in size leads to a greater chance of moving up to better teams with better coaching. (Via Flickr / USAG-Humphreys, The Wall Street Journal)

But if you happen to be a summer birthday don't fret yet. Superstars like Kobe Bryant have been born in the summer. (Via Flickr / Aaron Frutman)

And in the end, it's really all about loving the game.

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