Babies born during cold weather appear to have more heart disease and insulin resistance, higher triglycerides and poorer lung function later in life than those born when it's warmer outside.
The association comes from a health study of 4,286 British women, ages 60 to 79. Researchers determined the dates and locations of their births, then used climate records to pinpoint conditions at the times they were born.
The association between lower outdoor temperature and later ill health is consistent with the theory that exposure to cold at the time of birth causes the body to store more fat and go on to develop insulin resistance and heart disease.
The relationship was most pronounced among women whose fathers were unemployed or working class at the time they were born. It probably reflects some environmental consequences of having less access to warm clothing and a heated house, the authors said.
The researchers, from the University of Bristol in England and University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said more studies were needed to determine whether the critical time for the exposure to cold was during the end of the third trimester or in the first days after birth.
The findings appear in the April issue of the British journal Heart.
-- Jane E. Allen