Science Can Tell You What Allergies You Have Based On Your Birthday
Baby, you were born this way. *sneezes loudly*
Like the carney at the fair who can guess your weight on sight, scientists are able to predict what allergies you may have by looking at your DNA and when you were born. Though the science is a little more complicated than a carnival game, researchers are finally honing in on the “how” and “why” of allergies and their link to birthdays and genetic codes.
Researchers have known for quite a while that the time of year when you were born can have a direct correlation to the allergies you may suffer from. Not surprisingly, people who are born during fall and winter months are at an increased risk for both seasonal and non-seasonal allergies. (Seasonal allergies are responses to things like pollen and dust, whereas nonseasonal allergies relate to a person’s immune response to something like gluten or dairy.) This can be attributed to a lack of Vitamin D via sun exposure in those darker months, or a mother’s limited access to certain seasonal vegetables and fruits during pregnancy. Conversely, babies born in summer months tend to grow up to be healthier adults as a result of that extra sun exposure. But scientists are just now finding out that our DNA can also show us what allergies we may be predisposed to suffer from via a massive study in the US and the UK.
Dr. Gabrielle Lockett of the University of Southampton in England is leading the charge in this fascinating new study, which is setting out to prove how epigenetic marks can reveal our future allergies. Epigenetic marks are markers on our DNA that can pre-determine, among other things, your height and weight.
In an interview with HowStuffWorks, Lockett states that “…researchers have long known that your birth season, as well as certain environmental exposures, like smoking, famine or even your social environment, are associated with certain epigenetic marks and can alter gene expression. They just didn’t know why.” Lockett and her colleagues are focusing on a specific epigenetic mark that can literally turn our genes on or off, and the relationship between those markers and the month in which a person is born. Lockett’s research is still ongoing, but we’re already crossing our fingers that we’ll be able to “turn off” our sneezes and sniffles in the future!