A child's chance of developing an allergy could depend on the season in which the youngster was conceived, experts said today.
Babies whose first three months in the womb occurred in springtime are more likely to suffer from food allergies, such as to milk and eggs. About 11% of children whose 11th week of development in the womb was in April or May were more likely to suffer food allergy, a study found. This compared with 6% of children whose 11th week was in December or January.
Overall, the April/May group was three times more likely to be sensitive to milk and eggs than the December/January group.
Experts have already shown a link between pollen and food allergies, and the latest study supports this association. Checks on pollen levels over the study period showed that levels of birch and alder pollen peaked during April and May.
The research, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, involved 5,973 children born between April 2001 and March 2006 who lived in south-east Finland. Of this group, 18% had tested positive for food allergies by the time they were four.
The results showed that by this age, sensitivity to food allergy varied according to month of birth, from 5% of children born in June/July to 10% for October/November.