New Research Suggests Living with Pets During Infancy May Protect Children from Allergies Later in Life. According to a new study, children who grow up with dogs and cats in the house during infancy are less likely to develop allergies to those animals as they get older. However, the study suggests that the pet must be under the same roof as the child during their first year of life for this effect to occur.
The study found tat babies who grow up around cats were approximately 50% less likely to be allergic to them as teenagers, compared to those born into cat-free homes. Boys who grew up around dogs also had a 50% lower risk of developing dog allergies, but this wasn’t the case for girls.
The researchers hypothesize that early exposure to pet allergens and bacteria may strengthen the immune system, help the child build a natural immunity, and accustom the body to allergens, reducing the risk of allergies later in life.
However, the researchers caution that previous studies have had mixed results, and it’s too early to recommend getting a pet just to prevent allergies in infants. The study also suggests that being exposed to pets after the first year of life does not affect allergy risk.
The study followed 566 children and their parents, collecting information about their exposure to indoor pets and history of allergies. The researchers suggest that genetic predisposition to animal allergies may also play a role in a child’s likelihood to develop allergies, but further research is needed.
In conclusion, the researchers suggest that there may be periods of opportunity when exposure to allergens can have a protective effect, but more research is needed to determine who this applies to and when the optimal period is. The study emphasizes that getting rid of a beloved family pet is not recommended based on concerns of allergies, and there’s no evidence to support doing so.