Babies Who Live With Pets Develop Fewer Allergies

Babies who live with pets develop fewer allergies

Contrary to what many people think, several studies have shown that babies who live with pets are less likely to develop allergies to pets as they grow up.

So, if you have a child under the age of one, but don’t have a four-legged friend yet, it’s an ideal time to adopt one.

Children, Pets and Allergies

The days when professionals recommended keeping children away from dogs and cats to avoid allergies seems to be behind us.

According to research published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy , babies who live in homes where there are cats, for example, are 50% likely to be allergic to these animals when they reach adolescence.

As for dogs, this risk was reduced in boys, but not in girls. The reason is still unknown, but scholars assume it may be due to the different way that boys and girls have to relate to dogs.

Less risk of allergy for babies who live with animals

cat and baby sleeping

Other research data indicate that if exposure to pets occurs near or after the first year of life, it has no effect on allergy risk.

For this reason, researchers assume that early exposure to allergens (animals and bacteria) brings the following benefits :

  • Strengthens the immune system;
  • Accustom the body to these substances;
  • It helps children to develop a natural immunity.

The study was carried out by a team led by Dr. Ganesa Wegienka, an epidemiologist who works at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit (United States).

Survey Details

The survey focused on 566 children and their parents. And, although this is not the only study that deals with the topic, the difference is that a screening was  carried out until adolescence. When the babies studied reached the age of 18, blood samples were taken.

Thus, it was proven that adolescents who lived with a cat during its first year of life had a lower than 48% risk of developing feline allergy and that those who lived together with a dog had a 50% lower risk.

In summary, while allergy produces intolerance to a substance in the environment, everything seems to indicate that if this exposure is premature, in reality a tolerance to it will be produced.

On the same wavelength

In turn, a study carried out at the University Hospital of Kuopio (Finland) reached similar conclusions regarding babies who live with animals and their relationship with allergies and, in this case, infections.

400 children were examined during their first year of life. Thus, it was concluded that those who lived with a dog or, to a lesser extent, with a cat:

  • They suffered 30% fewer respiratory infections;
  • They had 50% fewer ear infections;
  • They healed faster;
  • They needed less antibiotic treatment.

    A little dirt isn’t bad

    Finnish researchers also noted that the most protective effects occurred in the case of animals that had contact with the outside of the home, where it is assumed that there is more exposure to allergens.

    All paths seem to lead, then, to the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which proposes that the less clean the environment in the first years of life, there is less possibility of allergies.

    It’s simple. When there are more infections – which doesn’t necessarily mean illnesses – the immune system is so busy with them that it doesn’t even remember to produce allergies.

    More animals and less allergies

    Dogs with children

    The extreme obsession with a place where asepsis reigns – sharpened by constant advertising of cleaning products – seems to be having the opposite effect.

    We get sick more and have more allergies because our bodies don’t learn to defend themselves from an early age.

    So relax a little. If a baby is about to arrive in your life, don’t even think about donating your pet. And if you don’t already have a furry four-legged friend, it never hurts to repeat:  adopt one.

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