A new study indicates the season that a person is born in affects the likelihood of allergy development. This means there is a significant difference depending upon whether someone is born during the summer, autumn, spring or winter months.
Moreover, the types of allergies that might develop are tied to the particular birth season. These findings stem from a University of Southampton study. The conclusions were reached through analysis of 376 people from the Isle of Wight (U.K.). The people selected for the study were aged 18 years.
The focus of the research was for any connection between epigenetic markers and allergy risk (epigenetics is concerned with connecting changes in the environment to specific physiological responses). Through this, it was discovered that DNA methylation is linked with the season of birth, and these markers were still present 18 years after birth.
The methylation of DNA is a common epigenetic signaling tool, used by cells to lock genes in the "off" position. Methylation is an important component in numerous cellular processes, and errors with methylation have been connected to a several diseases, including allergies. The region of DNA of interest to the researchers was CpGs (shorthand for 5'—C—phosphate—G—3).
The research, as outlined in the research brief, revealed a clear association with people born in autumn and winter and allergies. For instance, those born during these months are at increased risk for allergic diseases such as asthma.
Furthermore, people with autumn births were likely to develop a type of eczema skin rash, made worse by allergens (some medics are of the view that eczema triggers are linked to allergic disease, such as hay fever or asthma). The same association was not seen with people born during the spring.
The study also found other seasonal patterns, including an association with the birth season and an individual’s height and lifespan.
As to why this is, the research scientists are not sure. They plan to look at several seasonal related factors to see if these explain the genetic changes. Factors to be considered include temperature, sunlight levels, and diets.
The research is published in the journal Allergy, in a paper titled “Association of Season of Birth with DNA Methylation and Allergic Disease.”
While the findings are interesting and will lead into further research, the scientists behind the study made it clear they are not advising people to alter the timing of pregnancies. #Animals #Science #Nature