Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Asthma Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Fall Babies at Higher Risk for Asthma

Study Shows Winter Virus Season Has Impact on Risk of Childhood Asthma
By Caroline Wilbert
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 21, 2008 -- When it comes to babies and asthma, timing is everything.

A new study shows that babies born four months before the peak of winter virus season are more likely to develop childhood asthma than babies born at any other time of year; that's because the timing increases the chance of a viral respiratory infection during infancy, which in turn increases the risk of childhood asthma. The date that winter virus season peaks can vary from year to year.

The study is published in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Asthma is an increasingly important health concern. The prevalence of asthma increased 100% worldwide between 1985 and 2001, according to background information in the study. About 300 million people have asthma. Deaths from asthma are expected to increase 20% during the next decade.

Researchers looked at medical records of 95,310 children born between 1995 and 2000 and followed their health status until 2005. The children were all born in Tennessee and enrolled in the state's Medicaid program, called TennCare.

Scientists have known for some time that there is a link between infant viral respiratory infections and childhood asthma. However, they did not know whether viral respiratory infections cause asthma or whether the infections are simply a sign that a child is genetically predisposed to develop asthma. This study offers evidence that the former is true.

The researchers found that babies born four months prior to the peak of winter virus season had a 29% increased risk of developing childhood asthma compared to babies born one year before the winter virus peak.

Even armed with the new findings, preventing the infant respiratory infections that lead to childhood asthma is no easy task. It is hard to shield babies from such infections. About 70% of babies develop RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) during the first year of life.

However, the researchers argue that there may be a need for prevention strategies, such as vaccines, for babies at high risk for asthma.

"Prospective trials with antiviral strategies, including potential new vaccines targeting [respiratory viruses] in selected populations at risk should give us better understanding of the role of viral infections in early life in the causation of childhood asthma," writes Renato T. Stein, MD, PhD, of the Pontifícia Universidade Catolica in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in an editorial published with the study.

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

Start Now

Today on WebMD

Lung and bronchial tube graphic
5 common triggers.
group jogging in park
Should you avoid fitness activities?
 
asthma inhaler
Learn about your options.
man feeling faint
What’s the difference?
 
Madison Wisconsin Capitol
Slideshow
woman wearing cpap mask
Article
 
red wine pouring into glass
Slideshow
Woman holding inhaler
Quiz
 
Man outdoors coughing
Article
Lung and bronchial tube graphic
Article
 
10 Worst Asthma Cities
Slideshow
runner
Article