Plummeting temperatures increase the number of adults admitted to hospital suffering serious injury, according to the largest study of its kind.
Every 5C drop in temperature - for example due to severe night time frost - boosts adult admissions for serious injury by more than 3%, while snow leads to an 8% rise.
This means if one day the minimum temperature is 10C but the next day it drops to 5C, the number of admissions will increase.
And every additional 10mm of rainfall also increases trauma admissions by 2.2%, according to the study, which tracked hospital data and weather patterns for a decade.
Rain has been linked to more traffic accidents while ice, snow and frost can make conditions treacherous.
Major reasons for admission include traffic accidents and falls, the study showed.
At the other end of the scale, every 5C temperature rise above daily maximum during the summer boosts the number of hospital admissions among children by 10%.
Researcher Giles Pattison, from the University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire, said the study suggests the UK is not so well prepared for winter months.
He said in the mid west of America, where temperatures can fall dramatically, the number of hospital admissions actually goes down.
“If it snows there, there’s a siege mentality, people take a snow day, stay home and don’t go to work.
“Here, it’s different. People go out to work, or they don’t really know how to drive in the conditions and they get into accidents.”
Twenty-one A&E departments across England provided figures for the research, published in the Emergency Medicine Journal.
Any patient requiring hospital admission for more than three days, a transfer to another hospital or critical care, or who subsequently died after being injured, was included in the analysis.
Overall, the criteria applied to just under 60,000 adults and children.
Studies have suggested that, in warm weather, children are more likely to be involved in outside activities, which increase their risk of serious injury.
Overall, children’s admissions between April and September may be up to 50% higher than average, the authors said.
Among adults, every 5C rise in maximum daily temperature and each additional two hours of sunshine increases the admission rate for serious injury by just under 2%.
The authors concluded: “The results of this extensive study, covering many trauma units of varying size and location over an extensive period of time, show strong and intuitively convincing relationships between recorded weather and trauma admissions.”
The figures may be useful to help the NHS plan admission levels and the range and number of staff on duty, they added.