Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dogs and Cats May Make Allergies Better, Not Worse!

cat and baby

One of the most common reasons that people give for surrendering a pet is a child's allergy, or even potential allergy. Often, parents want to give up a pet when they are expecting a child or have just given birth.

But dogs and cats may be good for a baby in an unexpected way - exposure to pets during the first year of life not only reduces the risk of allergies to pets later in life, but also to other common allergens, such as ragweed and dust mites!

In a recent study, hospital researchers followed 566 children from birth to 18 years, measuring exposure to pets and development of allergies. Exposure to pets reduced allergies up to 50%! A 2002 study concluded that not only does exposure to pets in the first year reduce allergies to pets later, but also reduces reactions to other common allergens. Researchers suspect that exposure to pets strengthens the immune system, preparing children for exposure to all sorts of allergens as they grow.

So, before someone you know decides to give up a dog or cat because the baby sneezed, please share these resources. Not only will the life of the pet be saved, but the child may actually end up being healthier!


Really? The Claim: Pets Can Raise a Child's Risk of Developing Allergies

Exposure to dogs and cats in the first year of life and risk of allergic sensitization at 6 to 7 years of age

Living with pets may protect infants from allergies