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Home > Feature Articles > Health and Well Being Strategies

Early Exposure to Pets May Keep Allergies Away

Infants and pets make good companions!

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Urbanization is about simplifying our environment -- controlling it, keeping us separated from the forces of nature. However, research is finding that integration with nature makes us stronger -- whether it is exposure to dirt, to outdoor air, climbing trees...or now, relationship with other species -- pets. This research is meaningful because it points out in a very narrow way, that robust natural exposure is beneficial for our immune systems. Hmmm.

hedgehog good to great concept Early exposure to pets may reduce the risk of subsequent allergies, scientists say. A 2002 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that kids who had been around at least two dogs or cats as infants were significantly less likely to be sensitive to common allergens later in childhood than those who hadn't.

hedgehog good to great concept Some retrospective studies reported an increased risk of allergy to dogs and cats following exposure during infancy; others indicated that children raised on farms are less likely than their urban counterparts to be allergic.

In this study, Dennis R. Ownby of the Medical College of Georgia and his colleagues focused on exposure to dogs or cats during the first year of life and subsequent risk of developing sensitivity to common allergens. The team studied 474 healthy infants, following up annually until the children reached six to seven years of age, at which point they were given skin-prick tests and blood tests for allergies to dogs, cats, dust mites, ragweed, bluegrass and a mold known as Alternaria.

The results were striking. After adjusting for confounding factors such as parental smoking and dust-mite allergen levels, the investigators determined that kids who grew up around two or more dogs or cats in the first year of life were 66 to 77 percent less likely to develop allergies than those who were raised in single pet- or no pet-homes.

Importantly, early exposure to pets appeared to lower the risk of developing allergies not only to domestic animals but also to other common allergens such as grasses, pollens and molds.

Read the full story at the SOURCE:
Early Exposure to Pets May Keep Allergies Away



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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