Human birth seasonality and sunshine

Am J Hum Biol. May-Jun 2010;22(3):316-24. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.20987.


The environmental light intensity/photoperiod (ELI/PP) hypothesis proposes that the seasonality of human births is primarily associated with seasonal changes in ambient atmospheric luminosity or ELI. This study tests for the presence of increased ELI during the 1 or 2-month period preceding the conceptual month. Monthly birth data for Helsinki, Finland; Kiev, Ukraine; Hanoi, Vietnam; Matlab, Bangladesh; Nashville, Tennessee; Los Angeles, California; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado and Pretoria, South Africa, are correlated (Pearsonian r) to corresponding monthly meteorological data. With the exception of Matlab, birth data are adjusted for conception date, 31-day months, leap years and monthly deviation from an annual mean. Meteorological data are adjusted for a 1-2-month exposure to ELI before conception. From these correlations, Helsinki r = 0.82, Kiev r = 0.80, Hanoi r = 0.93, Matlab r = 0.91, Nashville r = 0.84, Los Angeles r = 0.71, Dallas r = 0.86, Denver r = 0.53, and Pretoria r = -82. Weakness and strengths of the ELI/PP hypothesis are reviewed using the criteria developed by AB Hill. Substituting meteorological variables for ELI may be a weakness, whereas the specificity of ELI/PP predictions may be a strength. Increased periods of ELI precede increased periods of conceptions. Increased ELI may influence seasonality for chimpanzee, baboon, and humans. Atmospheric pollution may alter the onset of seasonality. Increased ELI may be the initial, but not the singular variable to affect seasonality.

MeSH terms

  • Fertilization*
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Meteorological Concepts
  • Parturition*
  • Photoperiod
  • Seasons*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sunlight*
  • Time Factors