‘Summer Babies’ More Likely to Suffer From Substance Abuse Later in Life, Study Finds



Children born in the summer who are the youngest in their class are more likely to develop depression and substance abuse disorder as adults, study finds.

The London authors claim that so-called ‘summer babies’ are also more likely to have poor academic performance, such as lower grades, by the time they leave school.

This is not just because they lack additional learning time, but because there is something about being behaviorally, cognitively and socially less mature that “exposes a child to harm.” many subsequent results ”.

For example, being young in a classroom might make children less accepted by their peers, leading to mental health issues later on.

Children born in summer can be almost 12 months younger than some of their classmates and therefore have had less time to develop.

Based on the findings, the team is calling for more flexibility regarding the age of entry into school, so that children born in summer do not miss nearly an additional calendar year of learning.

Children born in summer are at higher risk for depression and substance abuse later in life, study finds (stock image)


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder defined by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

It affects about five percent of children in the United States. Some 3.6% of boys and 0.85% of girls suffer in the UK.

Symptoms usually appear at an early age and become more noticeable as the child grows older. These can also include:

  • Constant agitation
  • Poor concentration
  • Excessive movement or talking
  • Act without thinking
  • Little or no danger
  • Inattention errors
  • Forgetting
  • Difficulty organizing tasks
  • Inability to listen to or carry out instructions

Currently, the UK school year runs from September 1 to August 31, so children born towards the end of this period are unfortunately at a disadvantage.

Being young in a school class – known as being of a “relative young age” – also increases the risk of being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), experts warn.

The new research was conducted at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, in collaboration with the Karolinska Institute and the University of Orebro.

“In the early stages of childhood, this is a significant difference in terms of maturity, behavior and cognitive abilities,” said study author Professor Jonna Kuntsi.

“Normal behavioral characteristics in young children are in some cases compared to those of much older individuals, and we can see from the data that there are very real and long-term consequences of being the youngest.” of a school year.

“We show that the mere month of a child’s birth can put them at a disadvantage.

“This is of course a problem, because the future results of children should be completely independent of their relative age at the start of school.”

For their study, the researchers wanted to examine the combined effects of relative young age and ADHD on several negative long-term outcomes.

The study examined data from 300,000 Swedish individuals from Swedish national registries, all born between 1990 and 1997.

As the Swedish cut-off date for school entry is January 1, those of a “relatively young age” – being young in a school class – are born closer to the end of the calendar year.

In the study, people with a relatively young age were born in November and December, and those with a relatively advanced age were born between January and February.

All individuals were followed from their 15th birthday to their birthday in 2013 and were between 16 and 23 years old at the end of the follow-up.

The researchers examined whether or not they had received a criminal conviction and extracted data from the national patient registry regarding the occurrence of substance abuse and depression.

In people without ADHD, young relative age was associated with a 14% increased risk of depression, as well as a 14% increased risk of substance abuse and a 17% increased risk of low level d. ‘instruction.

However, no increased risk of crime was detected for this group.

At the same time, in people with ADHD, relative young age was associated with a 23% increased risk of substance abuse and 12% increased risk of low education, but no depression or crime.

Being young in a school class (known as having a

Being young in a school class (known as having a “relative young age”) also increases the risk of being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – a behavioral disorder defined as inattention, hyperactivity. and impulsivity (stock image)


Children without ADHD

– 14% increased risk of substance abuse

– 17% increased risk of low level of education

– 14% increased risk of depression

– No increased risk of crime

Children with ADHD

– 23% increase in the risk of substance abuse

– 12% increased risk of low level of education

– No increased risk of depression or crime

So while the youngest in a class were overall more likely to experience low education, substance abuse disorder, and depression later in life, young children with ADHD seemed less likely to experience low education, substance abuse disorder, and depression later in life. risk of depression.

Overall, the prevalence of ADHD was higher among children of relative young age (2.8% of the sample) compared to those of relative advanced age (1.7%).

Prof Kuntsi said the results do not necessarily show that a relative young age leads to negative results.

“What our data shows is a longitudinal association – being young for class increases the risk of these outcomes later,” she told MailOnline.

Academics note that the negative effects of relative young age are much less common in countries like Denmark, perhaps due to the more flexible approach to school entry age in that country.

Young children who might not be ready to start school have the opportunity to start school later and as such are less likely to experience negative side effects seen in other countries.

It’s a practice that the researchers say could be emulated elsewhere, such as the UK.

“Being the youngest child in a class can have complex developmental consequences and can put him at a disadvantage from the early stages of his university life,” said Professor Kuntsi.

“If we are to overcome this, policymakers, teachers and clinicians need to understand better so that all children have an equal opportunity to be successful later in life. “

The study was published today in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder, results in an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication (stock image)

Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder, results in an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication (stock image)

Earlier this year, Dr Tammy Campbell, a researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said that summer-born primary school students are disproportionately labeled as ‘special educational needs or disabilities’ (SEND).

Children born in summer, especially boys, are much more likely to receive the SEND label at the end of primary school, she found.

Almost half of boys born in summer are classified as having SEND by elementary schools, according to his research paper.

“The crux of the matter, in my opinion, isn’t quite that they had less time to learn,” she told MailOnline at the time.

“It’s more that they’re just younger and less developed – and so of course you shouldn’t expect them to have learned and developed so much – because they’re up to 12 months younger.

“Expectations of what is ‘normal’ for very young children need to be flexible and focus on individual progress and growth rather than static thresholds. ”

Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

SEND stands for special educational needs or disabilities.

Children who are said to have SEND can receive SEND support in school.

Children can be registered with SEND at two levels:

Inferior: Decisions on who has SEND are made by the school, and the offer is funded by the school. External agencies may be involved in assessments and services in some cases, but not necessarily. Support at this level is not statutory / guaranteed.

Higher: Level of the education and health care plan (EHCP): decisions to award an EHCP are taken by the local authority (LA). The supply is then statutory and legally guaranteed (in theory), and financed by the LA. This is intended for children whose needs cannot be met by the existing supply and funding in mainstream schools.

Dr Campbell found that the general trends are similar for the “superior” SEND statutory provision funded by local authorities.

For example, among children reaching sixth grade in 2018, 1.7% of girls born in the fall had benefited from a legal SEND provision at some point during primary school, compared to 1.9% of girls born in summer and 4.5% of boys born in fall. , and 5.2 percent of boys born in summer.


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