When a baby is born appears to matter in whether the child develops asthma. A new study from Vanderbilt University’s center for asthma research reveals that infants born in autumn four months before the peak cold and flu season have a 30 percent higher risk of developing asthma than babies born in other seasons.
It appears common infections might trigger asthma, says Dr. Tina Herbert, lead researcher on the study. The paper appeared recently in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Interestingly, research has previously showed babies from the Northern Hemisphere are more likely to develop asthma. But this is the first study go delineate asthma to a particular birth date. Herbert and colleagues evaluated 95,000 records of infant births in Tennessee.
"What we were able to show was the timing of birth and the risk of developing asthma moves in time almost to the day with the peak of these viral infections each winter," Herbert said.
Of course, this doesn’t mean all kids born in the fall will become asthmatic. Scientists are clear that some children are genetically predisposed to asthma. Herbert’s point is environmental factors, such as the typically torrid cold and flu in the U.S. each winter, can flip the unfortunate switch. As it turns out, almost all kids between three and six months old are infected with lung infections. But the infections are most virulent during the winter.
The challenge for parents with autumn babies is to avoid exposure to infections when and where possible. Washing hands is a good step, of course, so is avoiding exposure during a child’s early months. Awareness is an important and effective step.
Herbert says vaccines are another possible solution and that researchers are working on that breakthrough. But she cautions that asthma vaccines are still years in development. For now, common sense is the best approach for parents.
Bob Condor blogs for Alternative Health Journal every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.