A recent study has shown that summer babies grow up to become healthier adults than their counterparts born during colder periods of the year.
The paper, published in the journal Heliyon, was authored by experts from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit, at the University of Cambridge.
Researchers analyzed data regarding the growth and development of approximately 450,000 participants, from the UK Biobank study.
As scientists explained, the time of conception and birth tends to be random, without being influenced by factors such as the parents’ age or health.
Therefore, the purpose of the study was to determine if there was a link between birth month and characteristics such as birth weight, puberty onset and adult height.
Prior research had also suggested a correspondence between season of birth and infant weight, and also linked asthma and food allergies with being born during autumn.
However, this paper studied health outcomes more carefully and deliberately, by taking account overall growth and development.
It was determined that children that have been born during summer months tend to weigh more at birth, and grow up to be taller adults.
In addition, an association between seasonality and puberty has also been established for the first time. It was revealed that puberty in the case of girls born in June, July or August tends to debut at a later age than for infants that have been born during winter.
This is also an indicator of better overall health throughout adulthood, since early developers usually risk diabetes, breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.
According to researchers, these differences encountered among babies conceived in the autumn may be caused by greater exposure to sunlight, especially in the second trimester of pregnancy.
While being in the uterus, the developing fetus receives a greater amount of vitamin D, and as a result, the baby enjoys superior health throughout childhood and adulthood as well.
In the past, vitamin D has been proven to be essential for bone health, as well as efficient in guarding the body against cancer, multiple sclerosis and juvenile diabetes.
It appears therefore that the womb’s environment actually has far-reaching consequences, and researchers have nicknamed this impact that stretches across the years “programming”.
While study authors believe that their work has shown that birth month “has a measurable effect on development and health”, they insist that further research needs to be carried out before this process can be explained fully.
The scientists now seek to determine if indeed vitamin D exposure of the fetus is the factor that influences the onset of puberty and other physical traits. Only by delving deeper into this issue will the mechanism associated with prenatal programming reveal itself fully.
Image Source: Pixabay