Preeclampsia (PE) is a dangerous and unpredictable pregnancy complication. A seasonal pattern of risk would suggest that there are potentially preventable environmental contributors, but prior analyses have not adjusted for confounding by PE risk factors that are associated with season of conception.
Seasonal effects were modeled and tested by representing each day of the year as an angle on a unit circle and using trigonometric functions of those angles in predictive models, using "harmonic analysis." We applied harmonic Cox regression to model confounder-adjusted effects of the estimated day of the year of conception on risk of PE for births from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway for deliveries between 1999 and 2009. We also examined effect measure modification by parity, latitude (region), fetal sex, and smoking.
In adjusted models, PE risk was related to season, with higher risk in spring conceptions and lower risk in autumn conceptions, with a risk amplitude (maximum compared with minimum) of about 20%. The pattern replicated across subpopulations defined by parity, latitude (region), fetal sex, and smoking.
These results suggest that there is a seasonal driver for PE, with effects that are not modified by parity, latitude, fetal sex, or smoking. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP963.