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The Season Your Baby Born Affects His Mental Health

The Season Your Baby Born Affects His Mental Health

(ePharmaNews) - The season in which a baby is born apparently influences the risk of developing mental disorders later in life, suggests a large new study.

The season of birth may affect everything from eyesight and eating habits to birth defects and personality later in life. Past research has also hinted the season one is born in might affect mental health, with scientists suggesting a number of reasons for this apparent effect.

However, past studies only looked at several thousand people at a time, there was a chance the link between birth month and later mental health might only be a statistical illusion. Also, prior research often pooled data from different nations, complicating analysis, since population trends can vary substantially between countries.

To pin down whether or not there was a link between seasons and the mind, a team of researchers at Queen Mary University of London analyzed a very large number of births, all from the same country.

The scientists investigated whether the risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and recurrent depression was influenced by month of birth in England. This included nearly 58,000 patients with the disorders and more than 29 million people from the country's general population.

The researchers found that all the mental disorders they looked at showed seasonal distributions. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder had statistically significant peaks in January, and significant lows in July, August and September. Depression saw an almost significant May peak and a significant November deficit.

"For example, maternal infections — a mother may be more likely to have the flu over the winter. Does this increase risk? Or diet. Depending on the season, certain foods — fruits, vegetables — are more or less available, and this may impact on the developing baby " said researcher Sreeram Ramagopalan, an epidemiologist. "Or another key candidate is vitamin D, which is related to sunshine exposure, during the winter, with a lack of sunshine, mums tend to be very deficient in vitamin D" Ramagopalan added.

The differences in risk between the disorders could be a result of different factors, or the same factor being important at different periods of pregnancy, Ramagopalan speculated. For example, the same risk factor — says, vitamin D levels — could be important in the third trimester for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and the second trimester for depression.

Factors other than prenatal ones might be involved as well. For instance, children born late in the year may be relatively immature compared with older classmates, and thus do less well academically and socially, which might cause mental stress.

The major implication is that once we understand the cause of these effects, then we can intervene in terms of disease prevention," Ramagopalan concluded “we did not have details on socio-economic status or ethnicity, which may confound our results, it would require large birth cohort studies to follow individuals over time.” he added.

A previous study had shown that Birth rates of people who later kill themselves showed disproportionate excess for April, May and June compared with the other months. Overall, they found an increase of 17% in the risk of suicide for people born in the peak month (spring–early summer) compared with those born in the trough month (autumn–early winter);

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Prepared by: Marcell Shehwaro

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