Did you know that where you were born may be associated with your risk for developing dementia? Even if you move far away, you may still be at risk.
The JAMA Neurology journal found higher dementia rates of those born in these nine states that also have high rates of stroke deaths: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina, and West Virginia (the “stroke belt”). The risk of dementia (adjusted for age, sex and race) was much higher among people born in these states.
Were you born in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina, or West Virginia?
Researchers examined medical records of more than 7400 members of Kaiser Permanente Northern California. Records were first collected between 1964 and 1973, and reviewed again for dementia diagnoses between 1996 and 2015. The study’s authors wrote that “place of birth [was] a robust risk factor for dementia.” The study found dementia in 39 percent of those born inside the stroke belt, but 28.8 percent of those born outside. Adverse social and economic conditions early in life, the researchers say, may be contributing to the higher rates.
Of course, you can’t change where you were born, yet “you can work toward maximizing overall brain health by following the recommendations of the Alzheimer’s Association and the American Heart Association.”
Several articles have been written about this research. One author suggests that the eight southern states listed above are all red states, and are also the highest ranked for gun violence, plus seven of the states on the list are among the most self-identified religious states in the country.
What do you think? Does one’s birthplace contribute to mental illness? If you’re born in a state with a high percentage of gun violence, it’s not a foregone conclusion that you’ll be involved in that violence. Life in the Boomer Lane suggests that, if you live in one of these dementia states and you’re currently pregnant, or, if you are planning to get pregnant at some point, consider giving birth elsewhere. Then, you can simply return home after the birth.
Oh, if only all problems could be solved by just moving away and then coming back.