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Kids & Pet Allergies

July 4, 2011

A new study suggests that babies exposed to pets in the home are less likely to develop allergies to them.



Many parents worry that having a pet in the home will make their children more susceptible to allergies. But a new study suggests that when children are exposed to dogs and cats in their first year of life, they may actually be less likely to develop allergies to those pets by the time they reach adulthood. Epidemiologist Ganesa Wegienka of Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan led the study.

GANESA WEGIENKA (Henry Ford Hospital):

We’re not saying go out and get a dog or cat. However, if I were having a child, I would not remove the dog or cat from my home for fear of my child becoming allergic to that dog or cat.


The evidence was strongest for boys, whose risk of developing allergic antibodies to dogs and cats dropped by half if they shared a home with one of those pets as a baby. Wegienka says the results held true even if one or both parents had allergies. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.