Many scientists have spent years trying to connect the date a baby is born to their health later in life. This tactic is often used to attempt to explain autism, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis. Most of the ties that scientists have come up with are very loose because the researchers have been unable to explain how differences in the season or environment the baby is born in could cause them to have diseases.
Birth Season & Disease
English scientists say that they are coming closer to being able to explain how the time of year a baby is born may affect their health. They have shown that babies who are born during the month of May have more circulating immune cells and lower levels of vitamin D when they are born than babies who are born in November.
Lead researcher Sreeram Ramagopalan says he is convinced that the lower levels of vitamin C at birth puts babies at a higher risk for multiple sclerosis. He has been working to find environmental and genetic causes of MS, which can cause problems with thinking, movement and vision by damaging nerve covering.
Risk of Multiple Sclerosis
One reason that researchers are studying the link between vitamin D and birth season is the prevalence of MS in areas where low levels of sunlight are common in the winter, such as Austrailia, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. Moms who receive less sunlight during pregnancy have less vitamin D in their blood than ones who spend more time in the sun, which translates to lower levels of the vitamin in their growing baby.
Ramagopalan and the other researchers tested blood that had been collected from 100 new babies in the London area. They found that babies born in May had about 20 percent less vitamin D and about two hundred percent more T cells in their blood as babies born in November. The researchers speculate that the imbalance of T cells may increase the baby’s risk of developing MS later in life. The results of the study were published in JAMA Neurology.
The Importance of Vitamin D
An Austrailian study in 2011 confirmed the findings. The researchers found that lack of sun and low levels of vitamin D in the blood were risk factors for early symptoms of MS including nerve damage. A randomized clinical trial is now being funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Their goal is to discover whether giving patients who have been diagnosed with MS 600 IU or 5,000 IU of vitamin D will slow the disease’s progression.
Vitamin D has been the subject of much research lately, as many scientists believe that it can cure or prevent a multitude of diseases including heart disease and cancer. Authorities in the United States are more cautious as they don’t believe there is any evidence to back up these claims at this time. It is recommended that adults take a vitamin D supplement for good health and more research is being conducted all the time about the benefits of taking vitamin D.