PARENTS concerned about having a child with asthma may want to be careful about the month in which they conceive. Children born in the autumn months, before the height of the cold and flu season, may be more likely to develop childhood asthma than babies born at other times, research suggests. The American study looked at the records of more than 95,000 children. It found that the risk for childhood asthma was higher for babies who had respiratory tract infections early in life. Those born in the early autumn months seemed particularly at risk for contracting respiratory viral infections. The findings suggested that such babies "conceived in December and January - have a nearly 30 per cent greater risk of developing asthma. Although it's difficult to influence birth timing, this study suggests that avoiding conceiving these months may have short and long-term benefits. - DM ,' said researcher Dr Tina Hartert of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. 'Still, we must prove whether preventing these respiratory tract infections will prevent a lifetime chronic disease.' It had been suspected that infants in the northern hemisphere born in the autumn are at higher risk of developing asthma. However the study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, is the first to tie this trend to peak viral activity in the winter months. - DM