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Winter babies have an increased risk of mental disorders

Winter babies have an increased risk of mental disorders


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Why mental disorders occur more often in people born in winter

Various studies have shown that the time of birth affects later health. New research could now explain why babies born in winter are at higher risk of developing mental disorders.

Month of birth affects health

It has long been known that the month of birth has an impact on our later life. Studies have shown that children born in summer reach puberty later and are healthier than others. Winter born people, on the other hand, are at higher risk of developing mental disorders. New research could now explain why this is so.

Higher cortisol levels

According to a new study by Cardiff University researchers, the levels of the stress hormone cortisol are higher in women who give birth in autumn and winter than in women who give birth in spring or summer.

The new findings could explain why mental disorders are more common in people born in winter.

"Although maternal cortisol levels naturally increase during pregnancy, our data shows that fall and winter babies are exposed to particularly high levels shortly before they are born," said Professor Ros John of the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University in a statement.

According to the information, women who had a baby in autumn / winter had an average of 20 percent more saliva cortisol shortly before delivery than women who gave birth in spring / summer.

“Because higher cortisol levels in pregnant women previously had a higher risk of children developing mental disorders, the new evidence could explain why these disorders occur more often in people born in the winter months,” said John.

"However, they don't explain why women who are born in winter or autumn have higher cortisol levels."

How seasons affect mood

It has long been known that seasonal changes affect mood and behavior in the general population.

However, far less is known how the seasons can affect mood during pregnancy.

Cardiff University researchers used data from the long-term "Grown in Wales" study to investigate the relationship between the seasons and salivary cortisol concentrations, symptoms of depression and anxiety, birth and placenta weight in pregnant women in South Wales.

While the team found a relationship between the season and salivary cortisol levels at a given time, it found no association between the season and maternal health, birth weight, or placental weight symptoms.

The study included 316 women. The data was collected at the time of the preoperative examination before a planned caesarean section and immediately after birth through a detailed questionnaire and notes that were recorded by a midwife.

Cortisol was obtained from mother's saliva samples.

The study was published in the journal "Psychoneuroendocrinology".

Folic acid reduces the risk of serious mental illness

The frequency of severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia in young adulthood can be reduced by exposure to folic acid. A comparison of adolescent brains that were born shortly before and shortly after the introduction of folic acid enrichment showed changes in brain development that are associated with folic acid. These changes could in turn reduce the risk of mental symptoms. (Ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Swell:

  • Cardiff University: New research could explain why babies born during winter are at higher risk of developing mental health disorders, (access: 05.08.2019), Cardiff University
  • Psychoneuroendocrinology: Seasonal variation in salivary cortisol but not symptoms of depression and trait anxiety in pregnant women undergoing an elective caesarean section, (accessed: August 5, 2019), Psychoneuroendocrinology


Video: Winter Born Babies More Prone to Mental Health (December 2022).