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Contact with pets in early childhood reduces the risk of allergies
Many children want a pet, but parents are often not enthusiastic about this request. But you should still give yourself a jerk, because according to a current study cats and dogs also have a very pleasant effect on the health of children: the risk of an allergy decreases.
The professional association of pediatricians (BVKJ) reports in a current communication about the advantages of contact with pets on the health of children. Infants who grew up with cats and dogs developed fewer allergies and other diseases later in life than children without dogs and cats, according to the study of a Swedish research team at the University of Gothenburg, which published in the specialist magazine "PLOS One" has been.
Two different data sets were examined
Using two different data sets, the researchers at the University of Gothenburg analyzed the effects of contact with pets in infancy on the later health of children. There was already suspicion that contact with various germs in pets can strengthen the immune system and thus protect health in later life. However, it should not be forgotten that pets, for example, are also carriers of so-called zoonoses.
Pet contact and allergy risk evaluated
The Swedish team first checked the data of 1,029 children aged seven to eight years, who have been medically monitored since birth and regularly examined for asthma and other allergies. At the same time, contact with pets was recorded. The researchers also analyzed the data from 249 children aged eight to nine years who had also been accompanied since their birth.
Allergy risk halved
In the first data set, the researchers found that 49 percent of children without pets had an allergy (e.g. asthma, hay fever and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis), reports the BVKJ from the study results. Children who were in contact with a single animal as infants were only 43 percent affected and in children with three pets or more the disease rate dropped to 24 percent.
Less sensitive reactions from children
Among the children in the second data set, the allergy rate for children who grew up without a pet was 48 percent. Children with one pet in the household fell ill 35 percent and only 21 percent of the children who grew up with several pets suffered an allergy later in life. "Overall, the children who grew up with dogs and cats were less sensitive to both animals or animal hair and to pollen as allergens," reports the BVKJ.
Pets are only one way to reduce allergy risk
Taken together, the evaluations of both data sets suggest that the fewer pets who develop allergies, the more pets they have been exposed to as babies, reports the BVKJ. However, the Swedish research team also points out that pets are only one way to reduce the risk of allergies. Through a natural birth (vaginal birth), life on the farm and many siblings, the risk is also reduced. (fp)