Sunlight and shyness

by Milton on Fri, Sep 25th, 2009

in Books,Studies and rumors,Week 08

I’m reading a fascinating book called What’s Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life.  It’s satisfying all of my obsessive need to know as much as possible about what’s happening, how we can make the baby healthier, happier, etc.

On page 82, I just ran across mention of a very strange study indeed:

One recent study, for instance, suggests that a child’s shyness is determined, in part, by maternal hormone fluctuations during gestation.  Researchers who interviewed several thousand preschoolers in both the United States and New Zealand noted a significant relationship between the incidence of extreme shyness or inhibition (children who seem particularly fearful, anxious, or withdrawn in the presence of a stranger) and the amount of daylight their mothers were exposed to at midpregnancy. Thus, in the United States, only 12% of children born in October-November-December were rated as highly inhibited, compared to nearly 18% of those born in April-May-June. In New Zealand, where daylight hours are reversed, children showed the opposite pattern, with more shy children born in October-November-December than in April-May-June. Because the production of certain hormones, like melatonin, is known to fluctuate with the amount of daylight in each season, the researchers propose that such substances may subtly alter brain development during a critical period at midgestation, when massive numbers of neurons are migrating to form the basic architecture of the cerebral cortex. (It is also possible that other seasonal differences, like changes in women’s diets, physical activity, or exposure to colds and flu, mediate this relationship.)

Is this when science starts telling us that astrology is true?  That would be pretty funny.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristy Thu, Oct 29th, 2009 at 1:21 am

That is really kind of funny. I must have been basking in the sun… well she was born in July! And actually I did spend extreme amounts of time in the pool that summer because it was insanely hot, I think 110-115 the last couple weeks of my pregnancy. But that being said, I really think it’s genetic. You know the convo’s we’ve had about being “highly sensitive”. Adelyn is a classic ‘highly sensitive’ individual and you say that you think you were like this too, right? I think Dad was too. If you want more books to read, you should read that one, “The Highly Sensitive Child”. It might be useful to you in the future.

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2 Milton Thu, Oct 29th, 2009 at 1:27 am

True, this doesn’t really make sense to those of us born in California, where it’s always sunny. It applies to mid-pregnancy, so in your case, the Feb/Mar months. But it was probably sunny even then, in SoCal. If it’s genetic, my shy genes are going to have to battle it out with Esther’s not-shy-at-all genes. We’ll see… I may be buying that book after all.

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