Baby-To-Be & Asthma

The risk of developing asthma is almost 30 percent greater for babies born in autumn than for those born at other times of the year, physicians at Vanderbilt University in Nashville have discovered.

A possible reason: The winter virus season strikes when the infants are about four months old, just as they are losing the immunity they gained from being in their mother’s womb, but before their own immune systems are fully developed. Seven additional studies also show that babies who develop severe infection from the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the most common cause of lung infection and pneumonia in infants, are two and a half to four times as likely to develop asthma, observes Tina Hartert, M.D., director of the Center for Asthma Research and Environmental Health at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “This provides evidence that the virus causes asthma,” she says. “The next step is proving that preventing RSV infections will prevent asthma.”

Currently it’s almost impossible for children to avoid the virus, but since the first infection hits the hardest, keeping babies RSV-free for the first six months may make the illness less severe when it strikes, Dr. Hartert says. That means you should follow commonsense measures like frequent hand washing and keeping baby away from sick people during the peak cold season.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 24 Aug 2010

Last Modified: 16 Oct 2014