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Babies gain from summer pregnancies

Women who are pregnant during the summer pass on the benefits of boosted vitamin D levels to their children, according to a study.

Research from Bristol University found that babies born in the late summer and early autumn were around half a centimetre taller and had wider bones than children born in winter and spring.

The study said that summer mothers will absorb enough sunlight by just walking around, while winter parents should consider taking vitamin supplements.

Study spokeswoman Sally Watson said: "Perhaps people shouldn't be quite so terrified of the sun. There's been a lot of panic about skin cancer, but people don't need to panic about the odd few minutes of exposure. A little controlled English sun is better than none. Or go to the Bahamas!"

The study of 7,000 mothers looked at their likely sun exposure in the last three months of pregnancy and found that children born to mothers with the highest sun exposure were half a centimetre taller on average, and had 12.75 cm extra bone area due to increases in bone width, compared with children born in the darkest months.

Taller people tend to have wider bones, but these children had increased bone width "over and above" that accounted for by their extra height, the team discovered.

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Bristol University