You would want to call your child a ‘sweet summer child’ even if she is born in winters. The fact that we love seeing our children happy and with a bubbling spirit, we deliberately pick up this phrase to best describe them – rather compliment them. Did you know what season you conceive matters more than what season your child is born in?
Latest studies have proven that the season during which you conceive your child has a significant impact on your child’s health. True to the analogy with summer, scientists have proven that there is a weird connection between the health of babies and the season during which they are born. Interestingly they also seem to know why this sort of phenomenon occurs.
It has been suggested that May is the worst of the months to get pregnant. As per Currie and Schwandt report (Princeton University), “Babies conceived this month (and thus delivered in winter) are 13% more likely to be born premature, and their gestation time was almost a week below the average.” Since premature births and low birth weights are associated with a range of health problems as a weaker immune system, poor vision or hearing ability, and poor cognitive development, the finding might help assess the differences later in life. The other observation in the study was that the gestation period in conceptions between January and May may decline by about a week and soar up to the average gestational period in June.
It was noticed as far back as the 1930s that children born in winter were more susceptible to health problems later in life. These children were characterized with slower growth, mental illness, sometimes even early death. Scientists attributed these trends to diseases, harsh temperatures, high pollution levels related to winters – the times when the expectant mother and her fetus is highly vulnerable.
There are however more factors that are socio-economic in nature with respect to demographics that contribute to these vulnerabilities. It has turned out that mothers who are unmarried or lack higher education might have a higher incidence of producing offspring with health and developmental issues. There is also a greater likelihood of these women conceiving in the first half of the year and, therefore, the lesser the chance to ward out the socioeconomic effects due to seasonal reasons.
In terms of a drop in the gestational length, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention data had found that it can closely be associated with the time when most patients visited their doctors with flulike symptoms.
However, with respect to the birth weight, summer was the best time to conceive. The period between June and August is when most mothers conceived and gained more weight during their pregnancies and gave birth to infants who were about 8 gms heavier than the infants born in other months.
Babies conceived in spring were 13 percent more likely to be born prematurely.
Dr. Hyagriv Simhan, a maternal and fetal doctor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, believes that the difference in the gestational length by few days is usually small, but quite significant when averaged over a large population. His work on the link between influenza and early delivery suggests that flu is likely to occur in newborns, but that doesn’t mean that it is the only conditions that could develop in the newborns. For instance, there could be a dip in the vitamin D levels during the important phases of fetal development.
However, between the vitamin D levels and the flu season, it hasn’t been pointed out as to what exactly influences the health of the baby with regards to the season of conception.