Are Babies Born in Winter More Prone to Food Allergies?

According to an article in the BBC News, babies born in autumn or winter are more likely to develop a food allergy than those born in spring or summer, US researchers have found.

Because winter babies usually get less sun than babies born in other times of the year, researchers believe they are more prone to food allergies. Sun exposure is important in order to get Vitamin D, which is necessary for healthy immune system development.

After doctors from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston reviewed 1,002 patients with food allergies who had been seen in the emergency room, they compared the months of birth of the patients. They found that of the patients four years old and younger,  41% were born in spring or summer compared with 59% in autumn or winter.

Though there is not a huge variance in numbers, researchers believe it is significant enough to note. Of course, other factors like family history and dietary patterns may play a role, but the researchers believe that the Vitamin D deficiency is “ a significant potential risk factor.” Not only is it important for newborns to get some sun light, but it’s important while in utero.

Others studies have showed that birth month plays a part in other allergy related conditions like asthma and dermatitis.

Dr Milo Vassallo, lead author of the study and a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, said: “Vitamin D helps the body fight infection and suppresses its allergy cells.
“When the body is faced with a molecule of food it has to decide if it’s a friend or a foe. Vitamin D contributes to tolerance but reduced levels of vitamin D triggers intolerance in the body,” he said.

Though parents should not give their children, especially newborns, vitamins without doctor recommendation, it may be important to just get them outside if possible, even in the winter. Of course, some areas are more conducive to this, and I wonder how geographically this plays out. Are Floridian winter babies as prone to allergies as Massachusetts babies? In some areas, the sun in the winter is not strong enough to provide the Vitamin benefits in the winter, so even by getting outside, the baby may not get the Vitamin D.

Like many studies, more research is needed, but it is a very interesting start.

One comment

  1. Interesting… I never came across this before. You have a great blog and I hope you keep updating it.

    And I kind of doubt if taking a baby outside in a Wisconsin winter would be a good idea… all bundled up, there would be very little sun exposure except to maybe the face?

    Did you know Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to arthritis and joint problems? And some allergy symptoms mimic arthritis, with achy joints. The stupid soy sometimes does that to me and my mom…

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