Babies born in April have 'higher MS risk'
Published: 8:56AM GMT 03 Jan 2010
Babies born in April face an increased risk of suffering from multiple sclerosis in later life, possibly as a result of their mothers' lack of
exposure to sunlight, according to research.
Scientists found mothers who were pregnant during the autumn and winter were most likely to give birth to those who would suffer from the debilitating neurological
The researchers, based at Glasgow university and the city's Southern General Hospital, believe the spike in cases among children born in the spring may be due to
a shortage of vitamin D because duing a vital developmental stage their mothers are exposed to less sunshine.
Vitamin D, which is largely gained through sunlight and food, is known to regulate a gene that can predispose individuals to MS. If the gene is passed on to the
unborn child, without being regulated by a sufficient amount of vitamin D, it could "hard wire" them to develop the disease in later life.
The new study, published in the European Journal of Neurology, is the biggest yet carried out in Scotland, which has the highest rate of MS in the world.
MS affects about 85,000 people in the UK and 10,500 in Scotland. While the cause is not known, experts believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors
are responsible for the condition.
The Glasgow researchers examined data on about 1,300 MS patients born in the west of Scotland between 1922 and 1992. They found that about 400 people born
in March, April and May went on to develop MS, 22per cent higher than expected. Almost half of all male and a quarter of female sufferers were born in April.
By comparison, there were about 16per cent fewer MS births in the autumn months. Those born in November had the lowest incidence of the disease.
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