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Study links conception date to health problems

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Study links conception date to health problems

DOES TIMING MATTER?
Researchers linked newborns conceived in September to December to an increased risk of depression, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation

  • By Wu Liang-yi
    and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writer

An international study has suggested a possible link between conception from September to December and health complications in new mothers and infants.

The study, led by the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics collaborative program, looked at the effects of the term of pregnancy on the risk of disease in mothers and newborns.

Taipei Medical University assistant professor Usman Iqbal participated in the study along with other doctors from Taiwan, the US and South Korea.

The group found a correlation between babies conceived between September and December (born between July and October), and the risk of depression, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation in newborns, as well as high blood pressure in mothers.

Other possible illnesses included gestational diabetes in mothers, and type-2 diabetes in children, the study showed, which linked the increased risk of the diseases to there being fewer daylight hours in the last three months of pregnancy, and thus reduced vitamin D intake.

The findings were published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Data for the study came from more than 10 million mothers in Taiwan, the US and South Korea, aged 35 to 53, Usman said, adding that the data from Taiwan specifically spanned a 13-year period.

The study also found a correlation between the onset of the diseases and other aspects of the environment, besides sunlight, in which the mother spent her pregnancy, he said.

Taiwanese mothers whose pregnancy ended in October or November were affected by higher concentrations of carbon monoxide in the air, which increased the risk of depression in their children, he said.

Those whose pregnancies ended in September to December would also be exposed to higher levels of PM2.5 pollution at the time of childbirth, which could increase the risk of high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat, Usman said.

The study also showed a correlation between the mother’s living environment during pregnancy and the development of the child, he said, citing a correlation between development of the child’s heart and pregnancy during the flu season.

Lai Hung-cheng (賴鴻政), a doctor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Tri-Service General Hospital, said that such studies did not represent cause and effect, and advised mothers not to base their family planning on the findings.

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