Food Allergy Research

Winter Birth Increases Food Allergy Risk in Inner-city Asthmatic Children

Inner-city asthmatic children who were born in the winter (December, January and February) are more likely to be sensitized to egg, peanut or soy allergens than their counterparts who are born in other seasons, according to a recently published study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

A multi-center research team, led by J. Andrew Bird, MD (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas) analyzed serum and historical information for 427 inner-city children with asthma. Eighty-two percent of the children were African American. Sixty-four percent were males, ranging in age from five to eight, and most lived in the northern U.S. (predominantly in Boston, Chicago or the Bronx). The researchers looked for a relationship between the children’s season of birth and the likelihood that they were sensitized to milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, codfish, shrimp or various indoor allergens (cockroach, mold, dust mites). They also analyzed the data to see if there was a relationship between allergen sensitization and the children’s vitamin D status, but did not find one. In addition, the study found no relationship between winter birth and sensitization to indoor allergens.

Previous studies have found an association between food allergies and season of birth, but they have focused primarily on Caucasian children. This is the first study to establish a connection between winter birth and sensitization to egg, peanut and soy in a predominantly black, inner-city population. The authors suggest more research be done to determine whether other factors, including winter viruses, geographic location and indoor allergen exposure, may affect food allergen sensitization during the winter.

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