Washington: The season in which a baby is born apparently influences the risk of developing mental disorders later in life, suggest researchers including one of Indian origin.A large new study found a statistically significant peak of schizophrenia in individuals born in January.The season of birth may affect everything from eyesight and eating habits to birth defects and personality later in life. Past research has also hinted the season one is born in might affect mental health, with scientists suggesting a number of reasons for this apparent effect.“For example, maternal infections — a mother may be more likely to have the flu over the winter. Does this increase risk?” said researcher Sreeram Ramagopalan, an epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London.“Or diet. Depending on the season, certain foods — fruits, vegetables — are more or less available, and this may impact on the developing baby.“Or another key candidate is vitamin D, which is related to sunshine exposure. During the winter, with a lack of sunshine, mums tend to be very deficient in vitamin D,” Ramagopalan added.However, this effect appears very small, and since past studies only looked at several thousand people at a time, there was a chance the link between birth month and later mental health might only be a statistical illusion.Also, prior research often pooled data from different nations, complicating analysis, since population trends can vary substantially between countries.To pin down whether or not there was a link between seasons and the mind, Ramagopalan and his colleagues analysed a very large number of births, all from the same country.
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