Do we need winter layers?

When the temperatures are frigid, can going outside without a coat really make you sick?


You’re gonna catch your death of cold!” Who among us hasn’t been nagged for going outside in too few layers? When the mercury drops, parents and grandparents frequently fuss over jackets, hats, socks and gloves. But here in the Lowcountry, where temperatures tend to be mild and snow is a rare phenomenon, is all that fretting really necessary?

“In short, the answer is no,” says Roper St. Francis Healthcare affiliated family medicine specialist Dr. Vinitha Nareddy. “We know that colder weather by itself doesn’t increase the spread of colds and flu, but temperature and humidity fluctuations do.” Causing about a third of all colds during the winter months, the rhinovirus thrives in lower temperatures and high humidity—an environment that just happens to exist right inside our nasal passages. “This allows the virus to attach to that lining and cause a runny nose and sneezing,” Dr. Nareddy explains. In addition, we tend to spend the majority of our time inside during the colder months. That close proximity allows viruses to jump from host to host, spreading quickly and easily.

While even drastically low temperatures capable of causing hypothermia don’t cause colds, they can weaken our immune systems, making us more susceptible to catching a virus. “When temperatures are freezing or below, you really need to wear a hat and gloves,” says the doctor. Supporting the immune system with a well-balanced diet, good sleep and exercise is also important in preventing illness during the winter months. With Lowcountry winter temperatures hovering in the mid-50s, though, heavy coats aren’t necessarily required attire. Instead, Dr. Nareddy suggests loose layers that are easily removed as cooler mornings give way to warmer afternoons. Just don’t let your grandma catch you without your hat.

Coat Check

Did you know bulky coats can hinder the functionality of your child’s car seat? In a crash, the impact flattens the padding of a thick jacket, leaving dangerous extra space under the harness. To keep your child warm and safe during winter commutes:

• Get started early. When we’re in a rush, we tend to miss important steps. Allow time to remove bulky clothing before the drive and redress when you reach your destination.
• Dress your child in thin layers like leggings, tights or long-sleeved bodysuits. Top with warm layers that can be easily taken off and put on.
• Use a coat or blanket over the car seat straps to keep your child warm once they are buckled in safely.
• Hats, mittens, socks and booties are warm options that won’t interfere with the straps of a car seat.

New Research: Pre-Baby Weight

A child’s risk of allergic disease is linked to mother’s BMI entering pregnancy

A mother’s influence on her child’s health is undeniable, and recent science shows that impact starts before baby is even conceived. In a 2021 study published in the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, researchers set out to understand how a woman’s pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) relates to pediatric allergic disease. By looking at data from some 248,000 maternal-newborn records, they determined that children born to mothers who were obese going into pregnancy had an eight percent higher risk of developing asthma than their peers. On the flip side, those born to underweight mothers were more susceptible to dermatitis. The findings support the belief that weight-induced inflammation in a woman’s body can reach her baby in utero.