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Pediatric Allergy Risk Not Increased by Pet Dogs and Cats

Many parents are concerned about their children’s risk of developing allergies if pets share their home. But did you know the likelihood of pediatric allergies is not affected by having pet canines or felines? In fact, children may even be protected from it. This was the finding of researchers from the Department of Public Health Sciences, Henry Ford Hospital.

Led by Ganesa Aegina, MS, PhD, the researchers monitored a group of kids from birth to adulthood, regularly inquiring as to their exposure to dogs or cats. As they reached 18 years of age, blood samples were taken to check for antibodies to allergens.

The study revealed the protective effect of having pets against allergy risks. Researchers reported that boys who were exposed to domestic dogs during their first year have a 50-percent lower risk of becoming sensitive compared young males who had no dogs during the same period. In addition, children having pet cats during their first 12 months were also less sensitized compared to their peers who did not have any during the same period.

“This research provides further evidence that experiences in the first year of life are associated with health status later in life,” Ms. Wegienka said, “and that early life pet exposure does not put most children at risk of being sensitized to these animals later in life.”

Pet allergy is a reaction when its sufferer is exposed to proteins that are found in the saliva, urine and skin cells of an animal. It displays symptoms similar to hay fever like runny nose and sneezing. In some cases, sufferers may experience breathing difficulties and wheezing.

This condition is generally triggered upon exposure to animals with fur and is commonly associated with domesticated animals such as cats and dogs as well as horses and rats.

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