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For women in particular, being born in the summer was associated with a later onset of menstruation, which may be associated with a lower risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Researchers studied health data, birth dates and estimated levels of sun exposure during gestation for almost half a million people in the UK and found persistent patterns based on month of birth—irrespective of other lifestyle factors such as parent health.
Vitamin D may be key
While the researchers pointed out that more research is needed to determine what’s behind their findings, one theory is that more sunlight in the second trimester of pregnancy increased the vitamin D exposure in utero. Based on what we know about the “sunshine vitamin,” the increased exposure could be boosting bone health and reducing the risks for heart disease, chronic pain and some cancers in those summer babies.
Previous research has shown that it’s not necessarily that summer birth months offer an advantage against disease, but that winter birth months increase the risks. In one study out of New York City, those born in the fall and winter months were, for instance, at a greater risk of respiratory and neurological diseases. For now, the research remains preliminary, but fascinating—a data-based version of astrology, if you will.
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