The month in which babies are born can affect how their immune systems develop, and even how vulnerable they are to autoimmune diseases.
Scientists studying the neurological disorder multiple sclerosis, in which the body’s own immune cells destroy the protective coating around nerves and can lead to paralysis and loss of other functions, have long been puzzled by the “birth month effect.” Many patients with MS are born in the spring, and rates of the disease are lowest for those born in November.
Some have speculated that insufficient levels of vitamin D, which the skin produces when exposed to sunlight, on the mom’s part could play a role, since babies born in May are gestated during the colder, darker months, while winter babies are in utero during the spring and summer.
Now a study published in JAMA Neurology shows that this hunch may be correct, and suggests a mechanism for how the vitamin might be driving immune system development.
Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education