Studies: How the time of birth influences later health

How the month of birth affects human health

Our grandparents already knew that summer children have a "sunny temper" and often go through life much healthier. British researchers have investigated the phenomenon in order to find out whether the observed traditions actually have a background. According to the study results, the month of birth should actually have an influence - but different than we think it would.

Birth in the summer months is an advantage

Scientists at the Medical Research Council at the University of Cambridge have found that the month of birth has a crucial impact on your own health in adulthood. It is therefore advantageous to see the light of day in the summer months.

The team around Dr. John Perry reported in Heliyon magazine that babies born in June, July and August were slightly heavier at birth and a little bigger than adults when they were adults. They also found that puberty began somewhat later in girls born in the summer.

The scientists explained that both birth weight and the onset of puberty have health effects. For example, it is known that later onset of puberty is a sign of better health than adults.

Increased sun exposure could be the cause

The researchers suspect that solar radiation causes the differences between summer and winter babies. When pregnant women are exposed to higher levels of sunlight, this also boosts vitamin D production to strengthen the immune system.

According to the scientists, the circumstances within the uterus not only lead to differences in the first months of life, but also have consequences for the entire development - from childhood to adulthood. According to an older study, even the time of conception has an impact on the baby's later health. The US researchers at Princeton University reported at the time that, for example, the risk of premature birth would increase if fertilization took place in May. The reason for this could possibly be flu viruses.

Those born in winter are more balanced

Dr. Perry said of the British study: “The time of conception and birth are based on randomness. They are not influenced by social status, the age of their parents or their health. "

It was an important study design to look for patterns around the month of birth in order to identify environmental influences that impact during pregnancy. Earlier studies had also shown isolated effects on birth weight and some other health effects. For example, Hungarian researchers reported years ago that the season in which the birth takes place determines the character. According to this, people who were born in winter are calm and balanced, but with a slight tendency to depression, while those born in summer are rather overstretched and cheerful.

Further investigations needed

The British scientists had evaluated data sets from around 450,000 men and women from the UK Biobank for their investigation. It provides data from volunteers in the UK to track down the development of diseases.

In the specialist journal "Elsevier", Perry said: "We are surprised and delighted to see the connections." He also said: "It is the first time that a connection has been established between the onset of puberty and the month of birth." more studies are needed to understand the mechanisms behind it. Only then would it be possible to make appropriate recommendations. "We think that exposure to vitamin D is extremely important and hopefully our findings will drive further research that shows the long-term effects of the influence on puberty and later health," said the expert. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: What is the most important influence on child development. Tom Weisner. TEDxUCLA (August 2020).