21 December 2009

Beware, it's Winter

Today the sun ends its northward trek. We experience the shortest day of the year and the start of winter in the northern hemisphere.

If you've stood beside an open grave for the interment of a relative or friend you may have remarked about how cold it feels. That may not just be your emotions at the event.

The publication
http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/publications-and-data/occpapers/the-raised-incidence-of-winter-deaths.html documents, for the period 1989 to 2000, about one third greater daily mortality in January than July in Scotland.

Ontario statistics from 1991 to 2006 show about 20% more daily deaths in January than July.

My own family database contains 37 deaths in January, 30 in July, which follows the pattern rather well.

The Scottish study dismisses hypothermia as making only a minor contribution to the winter excess, acknowledges the role of influenza with major year to year variability, but comments that "Additional winter deaths are particularly associated with respiratory and circulatory diseases."

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