The influence of the lunar cycle on spontaneous deliveries in historical rural environments

      Abstract

      Background

      Many societies and their medical practitioners throughout the world have historically linked lunar phases to the frequency of births. During more recent decades, academics have discussed this alleged relationship using modern data, obtaining differing results.

      Objectives

      The purpose of this study is to analyse the relationship between the phases of the moon and the frequency of deliveries in a rural historical context without electricity, and among women of low nutritional status. These characteristics are similar to some current rural areas in certain developing countries. The exceptionality of this case will allow us to test several of the existing theories on how the moon could influence births, particularly those related to lunar light. We will also analyse nulliparous and multiparous differences over the very long term.

      Study design

      This study is a retrospective cohort analysis. In total, 23,689 births have been considered for 1484 lunar cycles between 1810 and 1929. Birth registers have been obtained from the Catholic parish archives of 10 rural Spanish agrarian villages. All the deliveries analysed were natural, without any medical follow-up, within the home and with little medical assistance.

      Results

      Using simple descriptive statistical techniques, we can conclude that there is no pattern with which to link lunar phases with the frequency of births. We can also conclude that neither electricity nor the rural environment affects this alleged relationship; neither have we found any relationship related to either the nulliparous or the multiparous and lunar phases.

      Conclusion

      The analysis of a 120-year period has shown that there is no predictable influence of the lunar phases on the frequency of births. The myth of such a lunar influence can claim no scientific evidence from a historical perspective. Neither the arrival of the electric light nor the lower number of deliveries per woman have modified birth patterns. Deliveries by rural women of low nutritional status are not linked to the phases of the moon, and consequently the medical services in developing countries should disregard this belief; they do not need to take account of the phases of the moon with respect to their daily organisation.

      Keywords

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      References

        • Joshi R.
        • Bharadwaj A.
        • Gallousis S.
        • Matthews R.
        Labor ward workload waxes and wanes with the lunar cycle, myth or reality?.
        Prim Care Update Ob Gyns. 1998; 5: 184
        • Saiz Puente M.S.
        La influencia lunar en la biología femenina: revisión histórico-antropológica.
        Matronas Prof. 2010; 11: 58-63
        • Rippmann E.T.
        The moon and the birth rate.
        Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1957; 74: 148-150
        • Vance D.E.
        Belief in lunar effects on human behaviour.
        Psychol Rep. 1995; 76: 32-34
        • Lieber A.L.
        The lunar effect. Garden City: anchor.
        Press/Doubleday, 1978
        • Malek A.
        • Ghezel M.
        • Ahmadiasl N.
        • Dastgiri S.
        • Jassur D.M.Z.
        • Nayebi A.M.
        Influence of moon phases of serum level of sodium and lithium: a quasi-experimental study on rabbits.
        Biol Rhythm Res. 2011; 42: 313-320
        • Stocker S.D.
        • Schiltz J.C.
        • Sved A.F.
        Acute increases in arterial blood pressure do not reduce plasma vasopressin levels stimulated by angiotensin II of hyperosmolality in rats.
        Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2004; 287: 127-137
        • Widjaja D.
        • Vandeput S.
        • Van Huffel S.
        • Aubert A.E.
        Cardiovascular autonomic adaptation in lunar and martian gravity during parabolic flight.
        Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015; : 1205-1218
        • Periti E.
        • Biagiotti R.
        Fasi lunari ed incidenza di parti spontanei.
        Minerva Ginecol. 1994; 46: 429-433
        • Law S.P.
        The regulation of menstrual cycle and its relationship to the moon.
        Acta Obstet Gynecol. 1986; 65: 45-48
        • Cajochen C.
        • Altanay-Ekici S.
        • Münch M.
        • Frey S.
        • Knoblauch V.
        • Wirz-Justice A.
        Evidence that the lunar cycle influences human sleep.
        Curr Biol. 2013; 23: 1485-1488
        • Olcese J.
        • Lozier S.
        • Paradise C.
        Melatonin and the circadian timing of human parturition.
        Reprod Sci. 2013; 20: 168-174
        • Lewy A.J.
        • Wehr T.A.
        • Goodwin F.K.
        Light suppresses melatonin secretion in humans.
        Science. 1980; 210: 1267-1269
        • Yonezawa T.
        • Uchida M.
        • Tomioka M.
        • Matsuki N.
        Lunar cycle influences spontaneous delivery in cows.
        PLoS One. 2016; 11
        • Díez Paz E.
        • Casteleiro Vallina A.
        • Alejo Holgazo A.
        • Barroso Lazuén B.
        La influencia de las fases lunares en el inicio del parto espontáneo.
        Nuberos Cient. 2014; 2: 58-62
        • Menaker W.
        • Menaker A.
        Lunar periodicity in human reproduction: a likely unit of biological time.
        Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1959; 77: 905-914
        • Osley M.
        • Summerville D.
        • Borst L.B.
        Natality and the moon.
        Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1973; 117: 413-415
        • Menaker W.
        Lunar periodicity with reference to live births.
        Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1967; 98: 1002-1004
        • Criss T.B.
        • Marcum J.P.
        A lunar effect on fertility.
        Soc Biol. 1981; 28: 75-80
        • Guillon P.
        • Guillon D.
        • Lansac J.
        • Sontoul J.H.
        Births, fertility, rhythms and lunar cycle.
        J Gynecol Obstet Biol Reprod. 1986; 15: 265-271
        • McDonald R.L.
        Lunar and seasonal variations in obstetric factors.
        J Genet Psychol. 1966; 108: 81-87
        • Stern E.W.
        • Glazer G.L.
        • Sanduleak N.
        Influence of the full and new moon on onset of labor and spontaneous rupture of membranes.
        J Nurse Midwifery. 1988; 33: 57-61
        • Kelly I.W.
        • Martens R.
        Geophysical variables and behaviour: LXXVIII. Lunar phase and birthrate: an uptade.
        Psychol Rep. 1994; 75: 507-511
        • Abell G.O.
        • Greenspan B.
        Human births and the phase of the moon.
        N Engl J Med. 1979; 300: 96
        • Nalepka C.D.
        • Jones S.L.
        • Jones P.K.
        Time variations, births, and lunar association.
        Issues Compr Pediatr Nurs. 1983; 6: 81-89
        • Morton-Pradhan S.
        • Bay R.C.
        • Coonrod D.V.
        Birth rate and its correlation with the lunar cycle and specific atmospheric conditions.
        Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2005; 192: 1970-1973
        • Soto Herrero V.
        • Postigo López P.
        • Rubio Cava J.
        • Ruda Maiquez A.
        • Bru Espín C.
        • Castellón Caicedo A.
        Influencia de las fases lunares en el inicio del parto, en el Hospital Universitario Virgen de la Arrixaca.
        Enfermerã­a Glob. 2007; 11: 1-7
        • Ochiai A.M.
        • Gonçalves F.L.
        • Ambrizzi T.
        • Florentino L.C.
        • Wei C.Y.
        • Soares A.V.
        • et al.
        Atmospheric conditions, lunar phases, and childbirth: a multivariate analysis.
        Int J Biometeorol. 2012; 56: 661-667
        • Kuss O.
        • Kuehn A.
        Lunar cycle and the number of births: a spectral analysis of 4,071,669 births from South-Western Germany.
        Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2008; 87: 1378-1379
        • Waldhoer T.
        • Haidinger G.
        • Vutuc C.
        The lunar cycle and the number of deliveries in Austria between 1970 and 1999.
        Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2002; 53: 88-89
        • Arliss J.M.
        • Kaplan E.N.
        • Galvin S.L.
        The effect of the lunar cycle on frequency of births and birth complications.
        Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2005; 192: 1462-1464
        • Saiz Puente M.S.
        Influencia de las fases lunares en el inicio de los partos espontáneos.
        Matronas Prof. 2009; 10: 20-24
        • Laganà A.S.
        • Burgio M.A.
        • Retto G.
        • Pizzo A.
        • Sturlese E.
        • Granese R.
        • et al.
        Analysis of the influence of lunar cycle on the frequency of spontaneous deliveries: a single-centre retrospective study.
        Kathmandu Univ Med J (KUMJ). 2014; 48: 233-237
        • Strolengo F.
        • Gigli C.
        • Bugalho A.
        The influence of lunar phases on the frequency of deliveries.
        Minerva Ginecol. 1991; 43: 359-363
        • Trap R.
        • Helm P.
        • Lidegaard O.
        • Helm E.
        Premature rupture of the fetal membranes, the phases of the moon and barometer pressure.
        Gynecol Obstet Invest. 1989; 28: 14-18
        • Bengtsson T.
        • Campbell C.
        • Lee J.Z.
        Life under pressure: mortality and living standards in Europe and Asia.
        The MIT Press, Cambridge2004: 1700-1900
        • Bernabeu-Mestre J.
        Introduction: the historical context of the nutritional transition in Spain.
        Food Hist. 2008; 6: 123-132
        • Meeus J.
        Astronomical formulae for calculators.
        Willmann and Bell, Richmond1985
        • Ghiandoni G.
        • Seclì R.
        • Rocchi M.B.
        • Ugolini G.
        Does lunar position influence the time of delivery? A statistical analysis.
        Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 1998; 77: 47-50