Autumn babies at risk from allergies

Children born in October and November are more likely to suffer from food allergies than those born in summer, a study reports

Researchers have found a link between food intolerance and the time of year when babies are born.  A study found that autumn babies are three times more likely than summer babies to have an allergy to milk and eggs.

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Scientists believe that exposure to pollen during the critical time in pregnancy when an unborn baby starts to produce antibodies may be the cause.  Others suggest low levels of vitamin D in the mother following winter could be a factor in reducing the immune defences of the foetus.

Researchers in Finland studied nearly 5,920 children born between April 2001 and March 2006, living in South-East Finland.  They found that nearly 11 per cent of children whose 11th week of development in the womb was in April or May, were more likely to have food allergies, compared to six per cent whose 11th week of development was in December or January, says a report in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

“We found a higher incidence of positive results in food allergy tests among children born in October or November than among those born in other months in an unselected population,” said Dr Kaisa Pyrhonen, who led the research team from Oulu University Hospital in Finland.

Other studies have shown that babies born in autumn or winter are more likely to suffer from eczema, reports the Telegraph.

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“The link between seasonal environmental factors and development of antibodies in the foetus remains controversial,” said George Du Toit, a paediatric allergy consultant at St Thomas’ Hospital.  He further commented that the study was interesting but said the results don’t warrant couples trying to time pregnancies to avoid potential allergies.

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