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Asthma’s Season

December 15, 2008

Your chances of developing asthma may be influenced by your date of birth.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Asthma and your birthdate. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that affects millions. Genes and pollution play a role, but a new study of children in Tennessee suggests that your birthdate can also influence your chances of developing the illness. Researchers Pingsheng Wu and Tina Hartert at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine led the study. Dr. Hartert says babies born in the autumn have the highest risk.

TINA HARTERT (Vanderbilt University School of Medicine):
About a 30% increased risk compared to infants born any other time of the year.

HIRSHON:
She says these autumn babies start to lose the immunity they received in the womb right around the same time that winter respiratory infection rates reach their peak. This makes them extra vulnerable to infections.

TINA HARTERT:
It’s pretty strong evidence that these winter respiratory viruses are causal in the development of asthma.

HIRSHON:
I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.