Approximately 6% of children develop asthma, a rate that has doubled since the early 80s. Doctors say there are many reasons why one child develops asthma while
another remains healthy, including genetic differences, body weight, and exposure to pollution.
But new findings suggest there may be another trigger - winter viruses. Researchers from Vanderbilt University studied more than 95,000 babies and found those born in the fall had a higher risk for childhood asthma. When they took a closer look, they discovered that the peak of winter virus activity was really to blame.
Babies born about 4 months before the winter peak had the highest risk of asthma, around 30% greater than babies born at other times. Researchers theorize that respiratory infections in young infants, who still have immature immune systems, may help trigger the asthma.
Parents should wash their hands frequently to help reduce the spread of viruses to babies and young children, and keep infants away from people who are actively sick.