Birth Season Linked to Allergies
We can’t choose the time of year in which we’re born. So as far as this new research is concerned we’re off the hook as far as responsibility.
But not for the suffering.
Research published in the journal Allergy has determined a link between season of birth and allergy risk in later life, with autumn and winter babies faring worse than other seasons.
A study team from the University of Southampton in the U.K. conducted epigenetic scanning on DNA samples from people born on the Isle of Wight. “Epigenetics” refers to a process that changes gene activity without changing the DNA sequence itself. These changes lead to modifications that can be transmitted to other cells. Although epigenetic processes are a natural part of our body's functions, there can be negative health effects if they happen improperly.
The most-studied epigenetic process is DNA methylation, which is the addition or removal of a methyl group. It has since been linked to many other health conditions.
After measuring whole blood epigenome-wide DNA in 367 participants, the researchers found that DNA methylation was associated with birth season, and it was still present 18 years later. In addition, the researchers were able to link the birth season epigenetic marks to allergic diseases -- people born in autumn had an increased eczema risk, for instance, compared with those born in spring.
The team believes that more work needs to be done to find out why the different seasons lead to altered disease risks, as well as whether specific differences in seasons, such as temperature, sunlight levels and diets play a role.