Children who live with cats or dogs less likely to have food allergies: study

Children who live with cats and dogs during fetal development and early childhood may be less likely than other children to develop food allergies, according to a new study.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One, analyzed data from more than 65,000 children in Japan. Children exposed to cats and indoor dogs were found to have a 13% to 16% lower risk of all food allergies compared to babies in homes without pets.

“Our findings suggest that exposure to dogs and cats may be beneficial for the development of certain food allergies, thereby reducing concerns about owning pets and reducing food allergy risk.” It eases the burden,” the authors wrote.

The study found that children exposed to cats were less likely to develop egg, wheat and soy allergies, and children exposed to dogs were less likely to develop egg, milk and nut allergies. .

Although there was no association between turtles or birds and food allergy, prenatal exposure in hamsters was associated with almost twice the risk of nut allergy. speculate that physical contact and house dust may sensitize young children.

Although the exact mechanism remains unclear, experts say pet contact may enhance the gut microbiome of infants, either directly or indirectly, through changes in parental or household microbiota. .

“Many studies have shown that the microbiome (thousands and millions of bacteria in our gut) influences our immune response and immune system, whether or not we develop allergies in particular. We know it gives.” Dr. Amal Asaad, director of the Food Allergy Program at Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati, said he was not involved in the new study.

Dr. Jonathan Bernstein, president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, says the dirt and other substances your pet secretes could be a good thing.

“It’s important to have these exposures early, when the immune system and gut are developing, because they appear to be important pathways of sensitization,” said Bernstein, who was not involved in the study. said.

Previous studies have yielded mixed results. Some people have linked contact with pets to a reduced risk of food allergies, while others have found no link.

“Data is everywhere,” Assa’ad said.

The researchers in the new study described several factors that may influence participants’ food allergy risk, including maternal age, history of allergic disease, smoking status, and place of residence, but others He said that factors may have influenced the results.

Additionally, the food allergy data is self-reported and relies on accurate diagnoses by participants, the researchers said.

“We really need to see this kind of study,” Bernstein said. “So we won’t necessarily change our lifestyle based on this data, but we definitely won’t get rid of pets in our homes.”

Experts hope these results will guide research into the factors behind childhood food allergies and reassure pet owners.

“If you’re thinking about getting an animal and you’re worried because you have an allergy, having an animal may have additional benefits beyond just your family’s and people’s general love for pets. And if you have childhood exposure, you might be potentially protected,” Bernstein said.

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