Ever wonder if you should adopt a pet when you have a new baby at home? Go ahead and get that dog or cat — it just might help your baby avoid allergies later in life, says a new study.
Many parents have worried that having a dog or cat may increase a babyís chances of allergic reactions, but researchers at Henry Ford Hospital found that early exposure to pets may even decrease a childís likelihood of allergies to pets.
The study involved a group of children from birth to adulthood, periodically collecting information about their lifelong exposure to dogs and cats. Researchers checked blood samples of 565 participants at age 18, measuring antibodies to dog and cat allergens.
It turned out that exposure to an animal in the first year of life was the most important period of exposure, and it appeared to offer protection to some of the studyís participants.
Among young men, those who had an indoor dog in their first year of life had about half the chance of becoming sensitized to dogs compared to those who didnít live with a dog. When it came to cats, both males and females ended up about half as likely to be sensitized to cats if they had a cat in the first year of life.
“This research provides further evidence that experiences in the first year of life are associated with health status later in life, and that early life pet exposure does not put most children at risk of being sensitized to these animals later in life,” said lead researcher Ganesa Wegienka, MS, PhD.
The study was published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy.
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Source: Wiley-Blackwell (2011, June 13). Early exposure to pets does not increase children’s risk of allergies, study finds; Evidence suggests it may actually reduce likelihood. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 13, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com≠ /releases/2011/06/110613014443.htm
Ann Pietrangelo is the author of “No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis,” a memoir. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and The Author’s Guild, and a regular contributor to Care2 Healthy & Green Living and Care2 Causes. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo