More Children with Autism are Born During Winter: Study Suggests

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Researchers are leaving no stones unturned to find a possible ‘root cause‘ or etiology of autism, that might give the researchers a direction towards the possible treatments of the disorder.

Conjectures, theories and studies are increasing by the day to pinpoint the cause of genetic mutation that causes ASD.

As per a recent study conducted in Scotland, on a group of 800,000 school going children, researchers have come across clues that could connect autism with seasonal changes.

Developmental disorders are higher in children born during the winter months
Developmental disorders are higher in children born during the winter months. Image ©

Children born during the colder months of winter are more likely to be diagnosed with symptoms of autism and other developmental disorder, believes Jill Pell of the University of Glasgow. She is the director of the Institute of Health and Well Being.

A study published in the September issue of American Journal of Epidemiology suggested the relation between conception and the season winter, since 11.4% of the cases accounted were conceived in this season.

Lack of Vitamin D, during the winter months, with increased risk of influenza may be accountable for the increased risk in a winter pregnancy.

Small studies that were carried out earlier have linked the risk of autism among young children to seasonal birth or due to conception.

autism more likely in winter
Image ©

A study carried out during early 2016 involving 86 British children diagnosed with autism found 15 children were born in winter season compared to just 5 in the month of October.

Pell, along with her colleagues have set out on a task to confirm the findings involving a larger group of children.

During the task, the researchers scanned the birth records of 8000 children within the spectrum.

The team wanted to confirm if any link that may exist between conception season and other environmental factors.

The team examined two registries from Scotland – one of the registries contained maternity records while the other contained census data from schools.

Each kid’s month of conception was linked to his other educational needs rising out from a possible diagnosis of autism and other difficulties such as communication problem, hearing or vision impairments, intellectual disability, motor delays or learning disabilities.

Out of all children, 8.9 % were found to be conceived during the winter season, viz January to March, had been diagnosed with autism, learning difficulty or other intellectual disability in comparison to their peers who were born between July and September comprised of 7.6 %.

Though the numbers seem to be modest, it takes into the picture as many as 8000 children who had other developmental limitations.

RELATED ARTICLE: What causes autism during pregnancy

Pell further says there are a lot of examples similar to these..

It was further noticed that the rates varied on a higher side for children conceived in the month of February and it was lowest in the month of July.

The month of April which is warmer compared to the first quarter of the year in Scotland, autism rates were observed to be lower.

The research casts a doubt on previous findings that autism is seen to be at its peak during summer.

Pell says, this is the largest group study carried out to date, however, more such studies need to be carried out to resolve the disparate findings.

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