Giving birth in winter can trigger depression
Women who give birth in the winter months are at greater risk of post-natal depression and should be advised to increase their exposure to natural daylight, a new study suggests.
Researchers in the US found more than one-third of mothers-to-be whose final trimester fell between August and November suffered depression, compared to around of quarter of women who had summer babies.
Although there is good evidence to show that reduced exposure to natural light is associated with depression, it was unclear whether it also triggered post-natal depression, or made symptoms worse.
"Among first-time mothers, the length of day in the third trimester, specifically day lengths that are shortening compared to day lengths that are short, long or lengthening, were associated with concurrent depressive symptom severity," said Dr Deepika Goyal of San José State University.
For the new study, researchers analysed information from 293 first-time mothers.
Overall, 30pc of the women suffered depression, but that fell to 26pc for those whose final trimester coincided with longer daylight hours and rose to 35pc for those with winter births.
The research suggests that women at risk of depression should aim to get outdoors more in the winter months and try light therapy to easy symptoms.