Background Season of birth (SOB) has been found to be related to cardiovascular mortality, but the mechanisms are unclear. It is suggested that birth in winter is a protective factor for the circulatory system, and this should be able to be observed using heart rate variability (HRV) measurements. The phenomenon may have a sex difference and is likely to be modulated by climatic factors. This study focused on this problem and investigates healthy school-age children to minimize confounding factors. Hypothesis Birth in winter is protective to cardiovascular system via autonomic modulation. There is a gender difference in the relationship between SOB and autonomic activity. Climatic factors are the cause of SOB effects on autonomic system. Methods A total of 381 healthy school-age children were recruited for this study. Their HRV profiles were measured once and climatic information related to their month of birth was gathered. The HRV profiles of the 2 sexes and 4 seasons of birth were compared. Correlation and regression analysis were performed to clarify the relationship between climatic factors and the HRV results. Results Boys born in winter have higher high-frequency power (HF) but a lower ratio of low-frequency power to high-frequency power (LF/HF) than do males born in other seasons. This result is not found for girls. Age and the temperature of the SOB are predictive factors for HF among boys. The humidity of SOB is a predictive factor for normalized low-frequency power (LF%) and LF/HF among girls. Conclusions Season of birth is related to both parasympathetic and sympathetic activity among school-age children, especially boys. Temperature and humidity are potential causes of this SOB phenomenon.
ASJC Scopus subject areas