Fall Babies Face Higher Asthma Risk

Study cites cold and virus exposure.


Timing is everything when it comes to fall babies and asthma, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Asthma researchers at Tennessee's Vanderbilt University found that babies born about four months before the height of the winter cold and flu season have a 30 percent higher risk for childhood asthma than those born at any other time of the year, Reuters reports. Genetics also play a role in developing the condition, the news website says: 40 percent if one parent has asthma; 80 percent if both parents do.

Experts note that having a significant respiratory infection (bronchiolitis) at any age during infancy is linked with a greater risk of childhood asthma. But the study found that autumn babies (who are most likely conceived in December or January) are particularly at risk for contracting respiratory viral infections, which suggests a possible link to the higher asthma rate. Researchers caution that this study doesn't prove that preventing a respiratory tract infection early in life will avert asthma later on.

The study emphasizes that forecasting a winter virus season's peak is difficult and avoiding infection is nearly impossible—70 percent of infants catch a virus in their first year of life. Most viruses usually clear up without serious complications.

Your little one's first sniffles can be scary. Click over to our health section to learn more about babies and allergies. If your baby has a cold, check out Treating Your Baby's Cold for our safe alternatives to medication. And the best tip: Don't forget to wash your hands!