NSO report: autumn sees most births and fewest deaths

Circle of life: Most Maltese are conceived in winter, are born in autumn, marry in June and die in winter, James Debono reports

Conception in Malta is most likely to occur in the winter months between January and February an analysis of statistics included in the National Statistics Office’s demographic review of statistics covering the period 2005-2012.

This is because November had the most births in 2007, 2009 and 2010 while October had most births in 2006 and 2012.  September had most births in 2011.  

The only exception to the rule occurred in 2008 when a record number of births took place in March – the largest number of monthly births in the period between 2006 and 2012. This suggests an abnormal spike of conceptions in June 2007.  March also registered the second highest number of births in 2012.

October had the fewest deaths in 2006, 2008 and 2012 while September had the fewest deaths in 2007 and 2011.  

With regard to death, the review also includes statistics for the entire period between 2000-2012.

A previous study covering the period between 1950 and 1996 indicated that in the 1950s births used to peak towards the beginning and the end of the year.  But subsequently births shifted to the end of summer. The co-authored study by Charles Savona Ventura, Victor Grech, Hugo Agius Muscat and Lina Janulova attributed the change to family planning and contraception.  

The paper showed that social not necessarily biological factors drive seasonal variations in births. 

“The issue to consider is when conception occurs; i.e. higher conception rates in January-February in 2006-2012, with the exception of 2008  which suggests a higher conception rate in June 2007,” Charles Savona Ventura told MaltaToday when contacted.

Between 2000 and 2005 the least number of deaths occurred either in October (2003) September (2001, 2003 and 2004) and November (2000 and 2005). 

This suggests that Malta’s relatively warm autumns see most births and the least number of deaths  

Research shows that peak fertility times vary from one latitude and climate to another. 

Births tend to peak in early Spring in Japan, in Spring in northern Europe and in Autumn in the USA.

Global studies suggest that geographical discrepancies reflect when people in those places are exposed to a mix of daylight and temperature that most closely approximates ideal conditions for human conception. Other studies attribute the spike of births in summer or autumn to people spending more time at home in the autumn and summer months.

The same statistics also show that people in Malta are likely to die in the colder winter months. Dr Charles Savona Ventura attributes this spike in deaths in Winter to the fact that to the  increase in respiratory infections in Winter.

January has the highest number of deaths in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007. February had the highest number of deaths in 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2012. March had the highest number of deaths in 2008, 2010 and 2011. December had the highest number of deaths in 2003.

In the last six years the least number of births occurred in April (2010 and 2011), March (2007), May (2008 and 2009) and February (2006). This suggests that fewer babies are likely to be conceived in late spring and early summer.

This suggests that with the notable exception of June 2007 which contributed to record births in March 2009, conceptions in  late spring and summer are less common than those in Winter.

The comparative statistics also show that June had the highest number of weddings in every year between 2006 and 2012 except 2003 when most weddings were celebrated in May. The least number of weddings is celebrated in January, February and November.  

This means that generally the higher number of marriages in June does not contribute to a spike in the number of conceptions in that month which would result in more births in March.

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