Autumn babies are more likely to suffer from food allergies, asthma and hay fever, scientists have found.
The UK has one of the highest allergy rates in the world, with more than 20 per cent of the population suffering from at least one allergic disorder.
Researcher Dr Jessica Hui, of National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado, said: ‘We looked at every child treated in our clinic, and those born in the fall were much more likely to experience all of the conditions associated with (allergies).
‘Now we are learning more about why that is and we strongly believe it stems from the bacteria on the skin.’
Most allergies, scientists believe, start during infancy when allergens pass through dry or cracked skin, causing a chain reaction of allergic disease known as the ‘atopic march’. Eczema, which affects one in five children in the UK, that makes the skin dry and sometimes become itchy, red and cracked. Children who suffer from eczema often have high levels of harmful bacteria known as staph aureus on their skin, which lowers their ability to keep out allergens or disease-causing pathogens.
Dr Hui said: ‘When food particles are able to penetrate the skin rather than being digested, the body sees them as foreign and creates antibodies against them, which causes the child to become allergic.’
Trials are being conducted to identify what is weakening the skin barrier of babies born in the autumn. Dr Hui said: ‘We think if we can intervene at a very young age, even right after the baby’s out of the womb, then potentially that’s a way for us to try to stop the development of this atopic march.’