Could the season during which your baby is born predict his or her allergy risk later in life? According to new research out of the University of Southampton, England, and published in the journal Allergy, the answer may be "yes."
Researchers looked at people born on the Isle of Wight, an island in England, and determined that a specific marker on DNA associated with the season of birth was present both at birth and 18 months later. This is significant because the study was actually able to link these so-called "birth season epigenetic marks" to allergic disease.
According to the press release, people born in autumn are at an increased risk of eczema versus those born in spring. John Holloway, professor of allergy and respiratory genetics at the University and one of the study's authors, explains:
"These are really interesting results. We know that season of birth has an effect on people throughout their lives. For example, generally, people born in autumn and winter are at increased risk for allergic diseases such as asthma. However, until now, we did not know how the effects can be so long lasting."
It's worth mentioning the results were validated in a cohort of Dutch children.
Most importantly, researchers do not advise women to alter the timing of their pregnancies based on these results.
The takeaway: Control what you can control, and have a baby when you want or are able. But just be aware that the season in which your baby is born may impact him, which can help to inform your response to potential medical problems.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.