Fall Babies Face Increased Risk of Asthma

Amy Hendel Health Guide
  • You pick the right guy (or gal) and you get married (usually) and you start to plan the baby (hopefully) in terms of having figured out financial issues and logistic issues and work issues, and now a new study suggests that picking the right time of year may help your baby avoid a risk for asthma


    The new study from researchers at Vanderbilt University suggests that if you have a baby in early fall, about 4 months before the height of winter cold/flu season, then your baby could have a 30% increased risk of developing asthma, when compared to babies born at other times of the year.  The experts in the study believe that's because when the infants hit four months of age at this point in the winter season, they are especially vulnerable to wintertime bugs like RSV, which is commonly associated with onset of a cold.  Mom's protective antibodies have all but disappeared in the baby, and at four months of age babies haven't really developed their own strong immune system.

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    If a baby around age 4 months catches the common cold, it can easily lead to a serious and progressive respiratory infection.  That scenario can set the stage for asthma to develop.  Asthma is usually a life-long lung disease associated with airway constriction, wheezing, and increased susceptibility to other infections like pneumonia.  This new theory is being used to explain the increased incidence of asthma among kids.  It flies in the face of a more entrenched hypothesis, the "Hygiene Hypothesis," which suggests that kids are not being sufficiently exposed to enough dirt, grime and germs for proper development of a strong and functional immune system.  So when lungs do finally get exposed to pathogens, they over-react and go into spasm and asthma-like behavior.


    The lead researcher of this new study on asthma says both hypotheses may be correct.  Dr. Hartert believes that it may be the timing of exposure that leads to a vulnerability and subsequent asthma development.  He does feel that protecting infants so that any infection exposure happens later in infancy, would help to prevent risk for asthma and allow robust development of their immune system.

Published On: November 23, 2008