New research suggests the time of year a baby is born could increase the risk of them having food allergies.
More than 5 million children have food allergies, and that number is on the rise. Experts believe being born in the fall could especially increase the risk of babies having food allergies.
Babies born at different times of the year experience a variety of different factors that can raise or lower the risk of various conditions.
Researchers say food allergies often start from an unlikely place: the skin.
A.J. Grady, 5, has always had eczema, but when he developed hives as he started eating solid food, his mother, Jessica, suspected the issues weren’t limited to his skin.
“He had eczema pretty much from birth, so just the combination of the two things really kind of clued us into that he had a food allergy,” she said.
A.J.'s allergies to milk and citrus are part of a common chain reaction known as the atopic march. It begins in infancy with eczema and leads to food allergies, asthma and hay fever.
“The skin barrier is quite disrupted in kids with eczema and even our kids with food allergy,” an expert said. “The skin is actually a way for different microbes and even food allergens to get into our bodies.”
Researchers at National Jewish Health believe that is precisely what sets off the atopic march. Their latest study found one of the risk factors is the time of year babies are born.
“We found that children born in the fall -- or September, October and November -- have a higher risk of developing the whole atopic march of eczema, food allergy, asthma and allergic rhinitis,” an expert said.
A new clinical trial will further study why babies born in the fall tend to have weakened skin barriers.
The ultimate goal is to stop the atopic march before it starts, preventing those life-changing allergies.
“As a parent, it would mean no worrying about them going out into the world and reacting to anything,” Jessica said. “It’d be fantastic. It’d take away a ton of stress. It’d take away allergy medications and allergy shots, just to live a normal life.”
Researchers said potential solutions could include introducing allergenic foods early in life to children at risk for food allergies and taking extra steps to seal the skin barriers of babies with eczema.