So you got a little fruity on your other half’s birthday and now you’re pregnant. Yay! But, before you break out the non-alcoholic bubbly, the bad news is that totting up the dates means your baby is going to be born in August.
Deciding whether to have a baby is a big deal. Can you afford it? Are you really ready for parenthood? And more importantly, are you willing to sacrifice sleep for the next five to six years (maybe more) of your life? But even if it turns out that you do fancy dipping your toes in the parenting waters, there’s something else to consider. As well as whether you’ll be able to get pregnant in the first place, when you conceive can have a huge impact on the rest of your baby’s life.
Maybe you were overcome with Christmas spirit or too much Sangria on your summer jollydays lead to a new arrival nine months later. But though you might not be giving much thought to it while you’re actually ‘in the moment’, not only could the time of year you conceive actually make a difference to you during your pregnancy, it may also have an affect on your child’s health and development throughout the course of their life.
Recent research by Indiana University found that babies conceived in December were more likely to be healthy as infants and adults, while trying to conceive in June was apparently ‘toxic’ resulting in more premature births.
Researchers examined 52 million pregnancies over 12 years, and found that December conceptions result in the highest birth rates.
In a speech at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference, researcher Dr Paul Winchester said that mums-to-be who conceive in December receive higher levels of sunshine and Vitamin D at the later stages of their pregnancy, which is believed to be beneficial for a healthier baby.
“We have seen significant seasonal differences in reproduction,” he said. “Valentine’s Day is one of the least likely times to conceive a baby, whereas Christmas seems a very positive time.
Explaining that June is a “toxic” month, he continued: “The June effect was something that we saw develop at a very early stage. White mothers have the lowest survival rates in June and significantly shorter pregnancies, with premature babies.”
And there are other things to take into consideration if you’re trying to plan your future baby’s conception. Research reveals that children born in summer, and are therefore the youngest children in the school year, are consistently out-performed by their older contemporaries.
The study by the Department of Education highlighted some potential negative effects of having an August baby. Researchers said that younger children were found to be lagging behind their older classmates by the age of five and many struggled to catch up.
The report also revealed that summer-born babies were more likely to be bullied and have more registered learning difficulties than their older classmates.
Similar research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) also found that children born in August do worse in school tests, are more likely to struggle with reading and writing, and then drop out when they reach 16. The study concluded that August-born children, particularly girls, are penalised by an “unlucky birth draw.”
A further study concluded that fewer children born in August were likely to go to university – 28% compared to 32% of September-born children.
Babies born in Autum/Winter may have an advantage over their summer contemporaries in the sporty stakes too. In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell found that most high-achieving athletes were born between September and December.
He suggested that this could be explained because children born between September and December are physically more advanced than the summer-born babies in their class.
But there are some advantages to having a baby in the summer. Research has revealed that babies born in the summer months go on to be happier than winter-born babies. And they’re less likely to have grass and pollen allergies too. The high pollen counts during early summer are thought to be behind it. Mums will have been pregnant during early summer and antibodies formed to reduce the sensitivity.
On a more practical level, having a baby in the summer time makes it much easier to get of the house. Sunshine is a much greater pull to shrug off your pjs and leave the comfort and safety of your sofa. Have you seen how bleak pushing a pram round a park in winter can be?
Spring babies aren’t without their plus points either, with some studies suggesting babies born in the springtime could be more intelligent than babies born at other times of the year. Sadly having brains comes with an increased risk of asthma. Win some, lose some.
From having a real life Christmas pudding, to starting the new year on a new baby high, being heavily pregnant in the heat to not being able to drink over the festive season, there are pros and cons for whatever time of year you give birth. And the minute you hold your gurgling newborn in your arms you’ll likely forget every single one of them.
What time of year do you think is best to have a baby? Share your opinions @YahooStyleUK