NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The time of year a woman conceives may influence the future academic performance of her child, according to research reported this week at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ annual meeting.
When researchers linked standardized test scores of 1,667,391 Indiana students in grades 3 through 10 with the month in which each student had been conceived, they found that children conceived May through August scored significantly lower on math and language tests than children conceived during other months of the year.
The correlation between test scores and conception season held regardless of race, gender, and grade level.
Why might this be? According to Dr. Paul Winchester of Indiana University School of Medicine who led the study, says the evidence points to environmental pesticides, used most often in the summer months, as a possible player.
The lower test scores correlated with higher levels of pesticides and nitrates in the surface water (nearby streams and other bodies of water) during that same time period, he told Reuters Health.