April really is the cruelest month. At least for the 11-week old fetus.
The Independent reports on a Finnish study that found that babies who celebrate their eleventh week of gestation in springtime have a higher likelihood of developing allergies to milk and eggs than those who hit the eleven week mark in December or January -- at a rate of 3 to 1.
To save addled brains from doing the math, this means that babies born in October or November are more likely to opt for a soy latte than those born in June or July.
The study looked at 5,973 children born between April 2001 and March 2006 in south-east Finland -- 18% of whom developed food allergies by the time they were four. But where only 5% of those born in June and July tested positive for food allergies, 10% of those with October and November birthdays did.
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According to The Independent, this is in line with past studies, which have found that babies born in fall and winter months have higher levels of eczema and wheezing, and seems to be linked to the fact that fetuses begin producing antibodies around the 11th week of development. Those that hit this developmental milestone at the height of allergy season develop a larger number of antibodies.
But the article assures us that the study is not cause for alarm.
George Du Toit, consultant in paediatric allergy at St. Thomas' Hospital in London, said: "Although interesting, and in keeping with other study findings in this field, the findings are not of a significance that would warrant changes in families that wish to minimise allergy outcomes in their offspring."
While the study may not lead to intensive family planning strategies, it seems clear that kindergarten birthday parties thrown this month might be wise to go for vegan cupcakes.