Janet Currie discusses seasonal patterns in health at birth
Several publications, including Science Now, The Los Angeles Times, and ABC Science reported on CHW Director, Janet Currie, and researcher Hannes Schwandt’s recent study found in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which finds that spring conception may increase premature births due to seasonal flu patterns.
Summary: Month of conception may influence infant health at birth
Women who conceive at certain times of year may be predisposed to infant health outcomes such as premature birth, researchers report. A large number of studies have linked season of birth with adult outcomes as diverse as body height, IQ, mental health, earned income, and life expectancy. But recent findings suggest that season of birth may be immaterial compared with maternal socioeconomic status, as mothers who are young, poor, undereducated, minorities, and unmarried tend to give birth in seasons associated with the worst adult outcomes. Janet Currie and Hannes Schwandt explore the relationship between season of conception and health at birth by comparing siblings born to 647,050 mothers in New York City, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The study included more than 1.4 million births. The analysis uncovered a 10% higher rate of prematurity among infants conceived in May than in other months of the year, possibly reflecting the spike in seasonal flu cases during the months of January and February, when the women were nearing full term. The study further revealed that infants conceived in the summer months tend to weigh approximately 8 to 9 grams more than other infants, likely due to seasonal patterns of weight gain during pregnancy. The results could not be explained by changes in behavior such as smoking or marital status. According to the authors, the findings could inform public policies, such as those that encourage pregnant women to get flu shots.
Article #13-07582: “A within-mother analysis of seasonal patterns in health at birth,” by Janet Currie and Hannes Schwandt