Having Pets in Early Childhood May Prevent Later Allergies

Baby with puppyA new study has found that when children are exposed in their first year of life to dogs or cats, they are significantly less likely to develop allergies to those pets.  The study, published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy, followed 566 boys and girls from birth to age 18, conducting annual interviews to track the kids’ exposure to pets.  When the children turned 18, a blood sample measured their allergic sensitivity to dogs and cats.

Boys who had dogs at home in their first year were half as likely to be allergic to dogs as boys who did not have dogs at home (researchers aren’t sure why, but the results were slightly less pronounced with girls).  Both male and female 18-year-olds who had been exposed to indoor cats during infancy were also about half as likely to be allergic to cats.

The decisive factor, researchers concluded, is early exposure during the first year of life.  The authors concluded, “The first year of life is the critical period during childhood when indoor exposure to dogs or cats influences sensitization to these animals.”

If you’re thinking of getting a pet, check out this feature on how to choose the best pet for your child.

More on childhood allergies from PNN:

(image via: http://www.babble.com)

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  1. by Jazmin

    On June 22, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    This is so true. When I was pregnant my dog Mary knew that I was pregnant becouse she would always jump on me when I was even before I started to shw she would. Every night before we would go to sleep she would come into my room and lay by my belly until the baby kicked. As soon as the baby kicked she would try to go inside my shirt and lick my belly. hahaha. On the morning that Igave birth she came up to me before I left and gave my belly a lick. When I came home with the baby she smlled the stroller I never let her near the baby until she was a month old and she sniffed and sniffed everything. Carseat, stroller, baby crib, baby clothes and bouncy. She always heard her cry. Now my daughter is 4 months old and Mary lets no strangers, dogs, or even my husbands and I’s friend get close to our daughter.One day when the baby was crying she got Mary got one of her chew toys and left it by the bouncy’s side. Another incident was when the baby’s swing ran out of battery the baby had started crying and my dog went and gave the swing a little push with her snout enough to rock my baby to sleep. Did I mention that my dog is a pitbull??…