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Winter Babies More Likely To Be Schizophrenic

Update Date: May 18, 2012 12:59 AM EDT

A large new study found evidence that the rate of mental disorders and schizophrenia is higher in babies born during the winter months, especially in January.

According to the study, the month a baby is born in largely affects his or her eyesight and eating habits. It also influences birth defects and personality later in life. Researches in the past have also implied that the birth month of a child affects its mental health in later stages of life.

"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, moms tend to be very deficient in vitamin D."

The study involved nearly 58,000 patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or recurrent depression and more than 29 million people from England's general population.

Mental problems appeared season-based. For example, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder had statistically significant peaks in January and significant lows in July, August and September. Depression saw an almost significant May peak and a significant November deficit.

"This result is further confirmation of seasonal variations in births of those later diagnosed with mental diseases," said William Grant at the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center at San Francisco, who did not take part in this research. "This implicates conditions during pregnancy. The two most likely factors are vitamin D status and temperature," Grant noted.

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