Winter Birth May Affect Baby's Personality, Mental Health Disorders

Discussion in 'Soap Box' started by Mordeci, Dec 6, 2010.


What season were you born in?

  1. Spring

    9 vote(s)
  2. Summer

    7 vote(s)
  3. Fall

    4 vote(s)
  4. Winter

    16 vote(s)
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Mordeci

    Mordeci Banned Member

    Being born in winter versus summer may affect your biological clock in the long-term, according to a new study on mice.

    The research, published online today (Dec. 5) in the journal Nature Neuroscience, found that mice born and weaned in a winter light cycle showed dramatic disruptions in their biological clocks later in life compared with baby mice born in summer light.

    The finding is the first of its kind in mammals, and could explain why people born in the winter are at higher risk for mental health disorders including bipolar depression, schizophrenia and seasonal affective disorder.

    We know that the biological clock regulates mood in humans," study researcher Douglas McMahon, a biologist at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, said in a statement. "If an imprinting mechanism similar to the one that we found in mice operates in humans, then it could not only have an effect on a number of behavioral disorders, but also have a more general effect on personality."

    Switching seasons

    McMahon and his team began their experiment by raising baby mice from birth to weaning (about three weeks) in either "summer" light cycles of 16 hours of light and eight hours of dark or "winter" cycles of eight hours of light and 16 hours of dark. A third group experienced 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark a day.

    After they were weaned, the baby mice got shuffled into new light cycles. Half the winter mice stayed in a winter cycle, while half switched to a summer schedule. The summer mice were similarly split. The mice raised in equal periods of light and dark were split into three groups, one of which stayed on the 12-hour schedule, one of which joined the winter group, and one of which joined the summer subset.

    After 28 days, all of the mice went into an environment of continuous darkness, eliminating the light cues that influence the biological clock. That way, researchers could determine the intrinsic biological cycle of each mouse.

    "We were curious to see if light signals could shape the development of the biological clock," McMahon said.

    As it turns out, they could. The summer-born mice behaved the same whether they stayed on the summer cycle or switched to winter: They ran at the time they once knew as dusk, continued for 10 hours, and then rested for 14 hours.

    But the winter-born mice didn't react as well to the switch in seasons. Those that stayed in winter kept their 10-hours-on, 14-hours-off schedule. In contrast, those that switched to summer stayed active for an extra hour and a half.

    Brains glowing green

    The researchers used a strain of mice genetically engineered so their biological clock neurons would glow green when active. Using the glow, the researchers monitored an area called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which sits in the middle of the brain and houses the biological clock.

    The mice's behavior matched up to the activity in their SCN’s. In the summer-born mice, SCN activity peaked at dusk and continued for 10 hours, coinciding with the animals' running time. The winter-born mice that stayed in winter had an activity peak an hour after dusk that lasted 10 hours. In the winter-born mice that made the season switch, however, biological clock activity peaked two hours before dusk and continued for a whopping 12 hours.

    The equal-light mice showed variations that fell between the two extremes, with 11-hour SCN activity regardless of the season they experienced post-weaning.

    Whether humans might have similar responses to early-life light exposure isn't yet known, but McMahon said that the winter-born mice's exaggerated response to seasons changing was "strikingly similar" to human seasonal affective disorder.

    Although research has shown that a winter birth raises the risk for certain mental disorders, there are many factors that could be at play, including exposure to flu or other seasonal diseases. The finding that light in infancy can play a role in later life may prove important for understanding how these disorders arise, the researchers wrote.

    Thought it would be intresting to to include a poll to see how many people were born in winter months since the study said being born in winter months could increase your risk for mental health disorders
  2. Joshuwa

    Joshuwa Well-Known Member

    oddly enough, i was born in the winter
  3. Decode

    Decode Well-Known Member

    Winter, me.
  4. bluegrey

    bluegrey Antiquities Friend

    A mother's exposure to less sunlight, less vitamin D and infections of the cold weather (colds, flu) is also suspected in influencing the type of schizophrenia- deficit or non-deficit that a susceptible child will develop.

    I was born mid-June which might explain why I never had seasonal affective disorder?
  5. aoeu

    aoeu Well-Known Member

    ...50% of us were born in winter? Wow.

    I was born on April 3, which isn't very far out from winter whence I hail.
  6. Theseus

    Theseus Well-Known Member

    February. So, the fag end of winter.
  7. nolonger

    nolonger Well-Known Member

    I was born mid :blink:
  8. morning rush

    morning rush Well-Known Member

    my mom was born in july and she's schizophrenic...I however was born in january so.....
  9. Chargette

    Chargette Well-Known Member

    I'm a January baby, but one of my daughter's was born in August and she has depression.

    This kind of data collection is fascinating, but I've learned there is usually a host of influences in our mental outlook.
  10. Little_me

    Little_me Well-Known Member

    I was born in the winter too.
  11. Hache

    Hache Well-Known Member

    I am a January child and during the winter months I feel a hell of a lot worse than the others, but I am not sure if that is seasonal disorder or just an assumption.
  12. chjones21

    chjones21 Well-Known Member

    Winter me. Although I think my body clock is fine.... My mental health is not great and seems much more stable when I am in a hot, sunny climate. But right now I live in London and am so cold I'm typing this with a blanket and duvet wrapped around me. Ugh! Just too COLD. My reptile blood just can't function in this kind of temperature .... plus guilt, fear, incompetence all competing to keep me under the duvet until next June. I should just hibernate - still better than being a genetically-engineered mouse with a glowing brain, perhaps?
  13. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    Clearly what happens to mice applies to humans. I was born in Spring and 17 others who took this poll (as of now 65%) were not born in the Winter.

    I reckon this pseudoscience to be debunked shortly.
  14. aoeu

    aoeu Well-Known Member

    The research did not claim that ALL neurological disorders were due to being born in winter. It showed that winter light patterns caused an increase in neuropathological behaviour.

    Given that about 1/4 of the population as a whole is born in winter, and nearly half of a forum of mentally ill people are, it appears likely that winter birth and mental illness are linked in humans: it's pretty unlikely that the results of this poll are chance.

    Further, light and darkness patterns are otherwise known to have an effect on the mentally ill - in my signature is a link to a treatment for bipolar disorder, more effective than medication, that's based on 10 hours of dark a day.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 10, 2010
  15. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    The majority of people who responded in this poll were not born in winter, and still experienced, or continue to experience, mental disorder and/or psychological distress. That indicates that the correlation between light patterns and the development of mental health disorders are not even strong enough because the same behavior is experienced by those not born in Winter. Being born in a season has little to do with development of long-term behaviors.

    All this study says is that sunlight is generally good for overall health.

    Add: Plus, they're just mice. No evidence links their experience to those of humans outside of seasonal-effective disorder which some people experience in the indoor season. A useful study would be one conducted on human beings. This poll's a good prologue.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 10, 2010
  16. Remedy

    Remedy Chat & Forum Buddy

    I'm quite shocked how much truth this has at least in SF. I was born in August though.
  17. aoeu

    aoeu Well-Known Member

    How can you deny that these poll results don't indicate increased pathology with winter birth?! There's an undeniable (well, you're denying it, which indicates irrationality to me) correlation there! Unless you're arguing that the small chance this poll is statistically unrepresentative is the probable case.
  18. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    No, it's not that strong of an indicator that five (as of now) more people than in Spring were born in Winter.
  19. zzz

    zzz Well-Known Member


    Any thought that comes into your mind that you attach to becomes your reality.

    Reading stuff like this isn’t going to help you.

    Just my opinion of course.


    “The researchers used a strain of mice genetically engineered so their biological clock neurons would glow green when active.”

    Please God, get me out of here!
  20. thedeafmusician

    thedeafmusician Staff Alumni

    Keep in mind that those born in winter though may be drawn to read this thread more and vote than someone not born in winter, simply because it has more to do with them than someone else. But that aside, it was interesting reading. For the record, I was born in July, but that's the middle of winter where I live.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.