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ADVANCE Perspective: Respiratory Views

Not the Time and Place? Try Telling Asthma That

Published December 12, 2008 2:28 PM by Frank Visco
If parents want to give their children the best chance to avoid asthma, they may need to take more caution when conceiving them. At least, that's the conclusion I've come to based on recent studies that have linked place of birth and time of birth to asthma.

The former study showed that African Americans born within the United States are far more likely than those born outside the US to be diagnosed with asthma. The study's author said similar results have previously been found in Asian and Hispanic populations.

All 479 participants were garnered from the same Boston neighborhood, and yet 30 percent of US-born adults and 23 percent of US-born children were diagnosed with asthma, as opposed to only 11 percent and zero percent in foreign-born participants.

Meanwhile, in surveying more than 95,000 Tennessee children and their mothers, the latter study found that fall babies were 30 percent more likely to develop asthma than children born during other times of the year.

Researchers pointed to genetic predisposition as one cause for this, but also said being born in the four months before flu and cold season is also a factor, as it leaves children exposed to winter viral infections at a young age.

So it seems to me that if you're looking for ways to save your children from problem of asthma, you should leave the country to give birth, and, perhaps more importantly, plan for it to happen in early spring. This should theoretically give the child as much time as possible to develop a strong immune system.

That's not an exact science, so don't hold me to it. I am the guy with an April-born sister who has asthma and an October-born one who doesn't, so really, what do I know?

Of course, if they had been born outside the United States, things might have gone differently...

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