A new study has found that babies born in the winter are at a decreased risk of developing certain temperaments and mood disorders later in life.
This new research comes out of the annual conference of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress that was held in Berlin earlier this week.
Seasons can have short term effects on mood and behavior, yet it is also thought that season of birth can have long-term effects on health outcomes. This has been seen in the development of food allergies or in how athletic children are.
While the mechanisms for this remain unclear, it is thought that vitamin D plays a role in these outcomes.
Those born in winter are often found to be at reduced risk for certain medical conditions. These babies are born to women who were pregnant during summer, the season when vitamin D levels are higher and vitamin D production from the sun is readily avaiable.
Researchers recently conducted a study in which they recruited 400 participants and matched their season of birth with their personality types in adulthood.
“Biochemical studies have shown that the season in which you are born has an influence on certain monamine neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, which is detectable even in adult life,” stated lead researcher Dr. Xenia Gonda.
“This led us to believe that birth season may have a longer-lasting effect.”
They found that cyclothymic temperament, characterized by swings between being sad and cheerful, is significantly more frequent in those born in the summer. Hyperthymic temperament, characterized by excessive positive behavior, was significantly more frequent in those born in spring and summer.
Adults born in autumn and winter were significantly less likely to have depressive temperament and irritable temperament, respectively.
“What’s new from this group of researchers is the influence of season at birth and temperament,” said Dr. Eduard Vieta from the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. “Temperaments are not disorders but biologically-driven behavioral and emotional trends.”