Children Born in Summer Tend to Be Healthier Adults, Study Suggests; Higher Vitamin D Exposure in Second Trimester May Explain Effect

Children who were born in the summer are more likely to be healthy adults, suggests new research published online on October 12, 2015 in an open-access article in the journal Heliyon, published by Elsevier. The article is titled “Season of Birth Is Associated with Birth Weight, Pubertal Timing, Adult Body Size, and Educational Attainment.” The authors of the study, which involved almost half a million people in the UK, say more sunlight, and therefore higher vitamin D exposure, in the second trimester of pregnancy could explain the effect, but more research is needed. According to the study, birth month affects birth weight and age at menarche, both of which have an impact on overall health in women as adults. The environment in the womb leads to differences in early life, including before birth, that can influence health in later life. The scientists said that their findings provide support for the “fetal programming” hypothesis, refining and extending the impact that season of birth has on childhood growth and development. The researchers behind the new study, from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, UK, looked at whether birth month had an effect on birth weight, age at menarche, adult height, and body mass index (BMI). They found that children who were born in the summer were slightly heavier at birth and taller as adults. For women, those born in summer months reached menarche slightly later than those born in winter months. No significant association with summer birth with BMI was observed. "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," said Dr.
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