Were you born in the summer or winter? New research is beginning to show that babies born in June, July and August generally have a life-long health advantage. Those infants born in December, January and February start life with a health deficit and those born in October fare the worst of all.
Dr. John Perry, University of Cambridge, was the lead researcher in a massive, 450 000 person study of birth and seasonality. Keying on birth dates rather than education, wealth or many other factors ensured a cross section of British society. The results were valid across society.
“When you were conceived and born occurs largely ‘at random’ – it’s not affected by social class, your parents’ ages or their health – so looking for patterns with birth month is a powerful study design to identify influences of the environment before birth.” Dr. Perry, UK Biobank
Seasonality of pregnancies was found to affect the fetus in utero, setting up programming in the baby that continued throughout its life. Key findings for summer babies were:
A factor that seems to play an important part is Vitamin D, also known as the Sunshine Vitamin. They found that the second trimester seemed most important in the pregnancy for have a positive effect on the fetus.
While humans can manufacture all the vitamin D they need to stay healthy, they can only do it if their skin is exposed to sunlight. Those people living where there is cold weather tend to use up their store of the essential vitamin if they don’t supplement with diet. In Canada, cow’s milk, infant formula and margarine are artificially supplemented with it. Oily fish can supply vitamin D.
The Sunshine Vitamin has long been known to protect teeth and bones. It has more recently thought to be protective of the immune system, important in preventing diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and cancers. Now it seems it is protecting us even before we are born.
Medical News Today
Dietitians of Canada
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