A population based cohort study from Finland has shown that a child`s likelihood of developing food allergies can be traced back to the season during which s/he completes their first three months of life in the womb.
The Finnish researchers base their findings on just under 6000 children, all of whom were born between 2001 and 2006 and lived in one area of Finland.
Out of the total, just under 1000 were tested for sensitisation to food allergens between the ages of 0 and 4 years, with the likelihood of a positive test result rising sharply during the first year of life.
Up to the age of 4, the incidence of an allergic response to certain foods varied according to season of birth, ranging from 5 pc for children born in June/July to 9.5 pc for those born in October/November.
Around one in 10 (11 pc) children, whose 11th week of development in the womb had occurred during April or May were sensitised to food allergens. This compared with a rate of 6 pc among children who reached that stage of fetal development in December/January.
Readings of ambient pollen for the years in question showed that levels of birch and alder pollen peaked during April and May.
When narrowed down to specific allergens, the results indicated that a child whose first three months of fetal development ended in April or May was three times more likely to be sensitised to milk and eggs than those who reached this stage of development in November or December.