Are you a half glass full or a half empty person by nature? Its seems that our temperaments may be tied to the time of year we exit the womb.
We have all heard that seasons can affect our frame of mind, but new research is suggesting that the season of your birth can really determine your mood later in life, even indicating a risk for associated behavioural disorders.
New findings presented this week by a Hungarian research team at a medical conference in Germany claim that those born in springtime were excessively positive, while summer babies were more likely to have mood swings. The study goes on to say that those born in winter tend to suffer from less irritability later on as adults and autumn babies generally were less likely to grow up to be depressive.
The work involved 400 volunteers, matching their birth season to personality types and temperaments later in life. It turns out that certain mood controlling chemicals in the embryonic brain, like neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine appear to be under the influence of the specific season when birth occurs. These brain chemical levels are detectable even in later life, say the researchers.
“This led us to believe that birth season may have a longer-lasting effect,” said lead researcher lead researcher Xenia Gonda in a press statement.
“Basically, it seems that when you are born may increase or decrease your chance of developing certain mood disorders”.
However they do point out that all this is still preliminary, and there are no definite answers to how these temperament connections are made but they suspect there is an underlying genetic link. So the the next step will be to look for genetic markers that might specifically relate to birth season and mood disorders.
It has been known for years that both genetic and environmental factors go into shaping temperaments. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), for example, is a depression that appears to follow a seasonal pattern.
Beyond the depression linked to the shorter days of winter, symptoms include lethargy, weight gain, withdrawal from social contacts and oversleeping. Women appear to be eight times more at risk of developing SAD, which tends to run in families. It is estimated that up to 15 per cent of Canadians will experience at least a mild form of this well-known disorder in their lifetime.
Now these new findings only adds to a growing list of scientific findings that indicate timing of births across the calendar year may be linked to many aspects of future health.
A study by the Office of National Statistics in the UK back in 2011 used population census data to show spring babies may be more susceptible to autism and schizophrenia. The thinking is that it could somehow be tied to shorter sunlight hours leading to a drop in Vitamin D production in the first months of pregnancy.
And finally, it appears research coming out of Israel last month is showing that birth season can not only affect behaviours, but the way our motor skills end up developing. The University of Haifa study tracked the timing of when babies began to crawl, and discovered that babies born in summer, who began to crawl in winter, started crawling on average four to five weeks later than those born in winter. The reason for the seasonal delay? In wintertime, less daylight may lead to restricted hours of activity.
So it seems that while no scientist will give any credence to astrology and its association with personality traits, it is incredible to consider that all these new research findings are suggesting that the die may be cast in some sense at least, when it comes to our future health, all while still in the womb.