Secular trends in seasonal variation in birth weight

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BACKGROUND: Many environmental factors have been shown to influence birth weight (BW) and one of these are season of birth.

AIM: The aim of the present study was to investigate the seasonal variation in BW in Denmark during 1936-1989, and to see if the variation could be explained by sunshine exposure during pregnancy.

METHODS: The study population was selected from the Copenhagen School Health Records Register and included 276 339 children born between 1936 and 1989. Seasonal variation was modeled using a non-stationary sinusoidal model that allowed the underlying trend in BW and the amplitude and phase of the yearly cycles to change.

RESULTS: There was a clear seasonal pattern in BW which, however, changed gradually across the study period. The highest BWs were seen during fall (September - October) from 1936 to 1963, but a new peak gradually grew from the early 1940s during early summer (May - June) and became the highest from 1964 to 1989. The amplitude of the fall peak started at 25.5 (95%CI 24.6; 25.9) grams and gradually disappeared. The amplitude of the early summer peak gradually arose from nothing to a peak of 18.6 (95%CI 17.7; 19.6) grams in the mid 1980s where it started to decrease again. Sunshine did not explain the seasonal variation in BW.

CONCLUSION: There was a clear seasonal pattern in BW in Denmark 1936-1989, which however changed across the study period. Throughout the study period we observed a peak in BW during the fall, but gradually, starting in the early 1940s, an additional early summer peak emerged and became the highest from 1964 and onwards.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEarly Human Development
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)361-365
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

ID: 150711228