Fall Babies May Have Higher Asthma Risk

Researchers probe a possible link between the month of conception and asthma.

ByABC News
November 20, 2008, 5:19 PM

Nov. 21, 2008— -- Parents who are concerned about having a child with asthma may want to consider which month they conceive, a new study suggests.

Children born in the fall months, before the height of cold and flu season, may be more likely to develop childhood asthma than babies born at other times, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Tina Hartert, director of the Center for Asthma Research and Environmental Health at Vanderbilt University, examined records for more than 95,000 children and their mothers in Tennessee.

They found that risk for childhood asthma was higher for babies who suffered from a respiratory tract infection early in life -- and babies born in the fall months seemed particularly at risk for contracting respiratory viral infections.

Risk was highest for infants born in early fall, approximately four months before the winter peak. The researchers' findings suggested that these babies, who are most likely those conceived in December or January, have a nearly 30 percent greater risk for developing asthma.

"Although it's difficult to influence birth timing, this study suggests that avoiding conceiving these months may have short and long-term benefits," Hartert explained. "Still, we must prove if preventing these respiratory tract infections will prevent a lifetime chronic disease."