Since many of your little ones have food allergies and other types of allergic conditions, we like to keep you updated on relevant new research findings. A recent study[i] found a link between persistent pollen exposure during infancy and the development of allergic disease, specifically asthma and hay fever.
The increased risk was found for babies exposed to pollen during the first 6 months of life and the association was strongest when pollen exposure occurred during the first 3 months of life. This may suggest that babies who experience their first pollen season prior to reaching 6 months of age are at a greater risk than babies who don’t. Since pollen levels are usually highest in the spring as the weather warms, babies born during winter and spring are exposed to more pollen during their first 6 months than babies born during summer and fall.
Remember that an “increased risk” does not mean that high pollen exposure causes allergic conditions. Many babies born in winter and spring do not develop allergies and many babies born in summer and fall do. However, these findings suggest that being exposed to high pollen during the specific window of 0-6 months of age may contribute, along with various other environmental factors and genetics, to the development of allergies and allergic conditions.
Keep in mind that pollen levels vary from place to place. The amount of pollen in the air tends to be higher in warm, dry climates, and lower in cool, rainy climates. Therefore, babies living in warm, dry areas will be exposed to more pollen than babies in cool, dry areas, regardless of season.
So, does the season of birth affect the risk for developing allergies? The short answer is that it may, since babies born during the winter and spring tend to be exposed to high pollen counts during their first 6 months, which may be a contributing factor for the development of hay fever and asthma.
Pretty interesting, isn’t it?
[i] Erbas B, et al. Persistent pollen exposure during infancy is associated with increased risk of subsequent childhood asthma and hayfever. Clin Exp Allergy 2013 March;43(3):337-343.