The controversial debate about daylight saving time (DST)—results of a retrospective forensic autopsy study in Frankfurt/Main (Germany) over 10 years (2006–2015)
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Worldwide, many people are exposed to biannual time changes. The benefit of Daylight Saving Time (DST) is controversially discussed and its impact on human health is largely unknown. The present study examines, whether effects of these time changes are seen in a forensic autopsy database. The mortality study is based on autopsy protocols provided by the Institute of Legal Medicine, University Clinic of the Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main, covering a period of 10 years (2006–2015). Data regarding mode and cause of death, age, and gender were evaluated for 4 weeks around the transition to and from DST in spring and autumn. A significant (p = 0.04) elevation in the number of autopsies was observed in the first week following the switch to DST in spring, but no significant changes were noted in autumn. Gender-specific analysis indicated that the autopsy rate of females showed a significant (p = 0.01) peak in the first and a decline (p = 0.05) in the second week following the switch to DST. Differences in non-natural death cases primarily included traffic accidents and suicides, in natural death cases fatal cardiac diseases like cardiac insufficiency and acute myocardial infarction. The number of suicides was low (p = 0.05) before, but high (p = 0.07) in the weeks after the introduction of DST. The present evaluation confirmed a potential effect of DST, such as a significant higher autopsy rate in spring during the first week after the introduction to DST. Moreover, a relation between the introduction to DST in spring and an increase in suicide cases was observed.
KeywordsDaylight saving time Death cases Epidemiology Forensic autopsy Suicide Traffic accidents
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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