We all know the stereotypes of siblings: the eldest has a head start in life, the middle child feels excluded and the youngest is rebellious and impulsive.
But big siblings do not always come to the top, research shows – especially when it comes to our health.
According to a wealth of scientific studies, the "babies & # 39; s" of the family are more slender, healthier and live longer than their older brothers or sisters.
Senior siblings are struggling with a tough battle, where they are susceptible to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.
Here we reveal the intriguing science that shows why your place in the family could be the secret to optimal health.
According to a wealth of scientific studies, the "baby & # 39; s" of the family are more slender, healthier and live longer than their older brothers or sisters (stock image)
SLIM AND HEALTHY? THANK YOU OLDER SISTER
Obesity will be responsible for 400,000 deaths in Britain over the next ten years. Statistics show that obesity increases the risk of heart failure by 70 percent – one of the leading causes of death in the UK.
Obesity, which affects more than a quarter of adults, has now overtaken smoking as the leading cause of four types of cancer.
Although overeating and lack of exercise are obvious causes, the birth order can also play a role. A 2015 study in New Zealand followed 13,400 couples of sisters and found that the firstborn were nearly a third more likely to be overweight and 40 percent more likely to be obese than their younger siblings.
Older sisters were on average 1 pound 4oz larger. The same pattern has been found in men and the reason, scientists admit, is a mystery.
But Professor Sandra Black, a public health researcher at Columbia University, New York, believes the difference may be because a mother's blood vessels are narrower in the first pregnancy, reducing the supply of nutrients to a baby in the womb , allowing them to save more fat.
In later pregnancies, blood vessels are more flexible and tend to stretch – increasing the flow of blood and nutrients to the baby. "Lower nutrient flow to firstborn in the womb can affect the fat regulation of their bodies, causing them to store more fats in adulthood," says Professor Black.
Professor Sandra Black, a public health researcher at Columbia University, New York, believes the difference may be because a mother's blood vessels are narrower in the first pregnancy, reducing the supply of nutrients to a baby in the womb, allowing them to store more fat (stock image)
YOUNG SIBLINGS LESS LIKE GET DIABETES
Type 2 diabetes, a condition where the body can no longer regulate blood sugar levels, is a modern epidemic that affects more than three million Britons.
Firstborns are more prone to diabetes, according to a study in New Zealand, which found that the bodies of older children respond less to insulin, the hormone that helps muscle cells burn sugar in the blood and keep it stable.
Excessive blood sugar is one of the characteristics of type 2 diabetes and, if not treated, can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, blindness and later amputations.
Scientists think that the worse health of firstborns may be because they get a smaller amount of nutrients.
Professor Scott Montgomery, at University College London, says, "There have been changes in the mother during her previous pregnancies that could affect the child's development."
COMPETITOR SEND BLOOD PRESSURE
I am always sick, but my sister never suffers
There is perhaps only a five-year difference between Fiona Scott and her sister Ali Rellos, but the health gap is huge.
Fiona, 53, from Swindon, has been suffering from high blood pressure since her early 20s. She also takes antidepressants to cope with the psychological effects of menopause and is prone to colds and sniffing. But her younger brother or sister has seldom or never had problems with her health.
"I was diagnosed with high blood pressure at the age of 24," says publicion executive Fiona, who is married and has three children.
"I have been using pills since then and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life.
"I have an annual check on the thickening of my heart muscles, which is common with this disease. I also have to have my liver checked because of the medication I take.
"Yet Ali is healthy – she has never had one of my diseases."
Having a younger brother or sister is seriously bad for your blood pressure. Studies with nearly 400 young adults showed that people with younger siblings had blood pressure measurements that were up to six percent higher than those with older siblings.
Scientists from the University of Massachusetts studied measurements with 374 young adults and discovered that little brothers increased the measurements by up to six percent and little sisters by nearly four percent.
The reason why is fairly predictable – the arrival of a new brother or sister means that you have to compete for parental attention, which contributes to stress.
Sensation of stress leads to an increase in the hormone cortisol, which has been shown to dramatically increase blood pressure.
Older sisters were found to have particularly high blood pressure. Scientists think this is because they take more responsibility in the house than boys when a new brother or sister arrives.
Another 2017 study – the largest of its kind – found that older siblings are seven percent more likely to have high blood pressure at the age of 40.
However, Prof. Black says that sociological factors may play a role.
"This may have to do with the higher stress associated with certain professions, such as managerial positions, which we know that first-borns do that more often."
And findings published in Economics And Human Biology also showed that the effects on blood pressure decrease as family members age.
"BABIES" PROTECTED AGAINST ALLERGIES
Ever wondered why you sometimes see yourself in your memories?
Reminders are dynamic and can be changed.
Psychologists suggest that people rather "edit" traumatic or emotional memories to remember them from a different perspective.
Research suggests that this helps to make the memory of the event – whether it is an embarrassing school performance or an injury – less lively and to manage the associated emotion more easily.
When this happens, it may feel as if your viewer is looking at something that your younger self has experienced.
But because you cannot see yourself doing it, the memory is not completely accurate.
The "hygiene hypothesis", whereby nervous first parents are sterilized, can explain why younger siblings run a much lower risk of allergies. Firstborns have almost twice as much risk of allergic conjunctivitis, hay fever and food allergies than third children, and a third more often than middle children. Some suggest that older siblings pick up infections at school and bring them home, exposing younger siblings to germs at an earlier stage. Prof. Montgomery says, "This increases the immune system of young children, making them less likely to develop allergic diseases."
However, a 2008 study found that the difference in risk in the womb begins. Scientists studied the placenta blood of 1200 newborns, all with different birth order.
The blood of firstborns was found to contain considerably increased amounts of a genetic marker associated with allergies and asthma.
When researchers followed them at the age of four and ten and conducted an allergy test, they tested positive for allergies with the genetic marker. This may partly explain the increasing prevalence of allergies in the Western world, because the birth rates have fallen.
EVEN THE RISK OF CANCER MAY DIFFER
Being the oldest can increase the risk of various cancers, studies suggest.
Boys born as the fourth or fifth child in the family are 70 percent less likely to develop a testicular tumor than the oldest boy.
Researchers who studied 200 cases of testicular cancer and their siblings said that a man's risk of developing the disease can be determined while still in the womb when first-born boys experience greater exposure to the hormone estrogen than younger brothers. Estrogen is thought to stimulate the reproduction of testicular cancer cells.
Brain cancer can also be linked to the birth order, according to a German study, which discovered that having three or more younger siblings tripled the risk of a tumor due to infections that were transferred from younger siblings to older ones, perhaps during late childhood. Infections passed on by older siblings do not seem to carry the same threat.
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