A recent study suggests that babies who are born in April may have greater chances of suffering from multiple sclerosis later in life. Researchers based in Glasgow University in Scotland and at the city’s Southern General Hospital believe that it may stem from the mother’s limited exposure to sunlight during pregnancy.
Part of the study involved Glasgow researchers examining and analyzing data of about 1,300 patients with multiple sclerosis that was born west of Scotland between 1922 and 1992. The researchers noted that about 400 patients born in March, April and May eventually developed MS. This accounts to about 22 percent higher than what the researchers expected. Of the 400, almost half of the male and about a quarter of the females were born in April. The researchers also found out that those who were born in November tend to have the lowest incidence of the neurological disease.
The findings suggest that MS risk may also be attributed to a woman’s pregnancy and when the baby is born. The researchers suggest that this might be due to the limited exposure to sunlight that women may experience when they have their pregnancies during autumn or winter. Less sunshine may lead to a shortage of vitamin D for the pregnant mothers which consequently be passed on to their babies. This may later on increase the chances of the babies developing MS in later life.
According to Dr. Colin O’Leary of the institute of neurological sciences at the Southern General Hospital, "Seasonal risk may be a reflection of adverse events that occurred at the time of birth, in utero in the preceding nine months, or during the months following birth, when the central nervous system continues to undergo rapid development. There could be an association between reduced sun exposure and vitamin D levels", Dr. O’Leary further added. A further UK-wide study together with scientists from Oxford is being planned.