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Winter conception 'could lead to disability'

By Lucy Christie

Published 24/08/2016

Learning disabilities are more common in British children conceived between January and March, new research suggests
Learning disabilities are more common in British children conceived between January and March, new research suggests

Learning disabilities are more common in British children conceived between January and March, new research suggests.

A study of more than 800,000 school children showed 8.9% of those conceived in the first quarter of the year had learning disabilities compared to 7.6% of those conceived between July and September.

Glasgow University scientists believe vitamin D deficiency in mothers-to-be could explain this.

The UK does not receive enough sunlight in January, February and March for pregnant women to produce the vitamin, important for brain development.

The study, carried out in collaboration with Cambridge University, the NHS and the Scottish Government, found the seasonal differences related to autism, intellectual and learning difficulties such as dyslexia.

There were no patterns for other causes of learning difficulties such as visual or hearing problems, or physical illness.

The children in the research were born before 2012 guidelines advising pregnant women to take vitamin D supplements to prevent conditions such as rickets.

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