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Posts Tagged ‘pet allergies’


I grew up with pets and I personally feel that it is important for children to have them. They help a child understand that they can’t control everything, they learn about unconditional love, how to care for something and how to be gentle with animals or there will be consequences. Now it looks as though there may be another reason to have a pet.

A new study published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy shows that having a dog or cat in the home during your child’s first year of life may help prevent pet allergies later in life. The study compared children who lived with indoor cats or dogs as infants to those in animal-free homes. The children who grew up with cats were roughly half as likely to be allergic to them as teenagers. However, growing up around a dog reduced the risk of dog allergies by about the same amount for boys, but not for girls — a finding that mystified researchers.

“This research provides further evidence that experiences in the first year of life are associated with health status later in life, and that early life pet exposure does not put most children at risk of being sensitized to these animals later in life,” says researcher Ganesa Wegienka, PhD, of the department of biostatistics and research epidemiology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Will having a pet prevents allergies?
For the study, researchers looked at the association between lifetime dog and cat exposure and allergic sensitization in a group of 566 boys and girls from Detroit who were followed from birth until age 18.

They found that being exposed dogs or cats at home during the first year of life was the most important factor in the reduced risk of allergic sensitization to that specific animal later in life. Being exposed to pets any time after the first year of life appeared to have no effect on allergy risk, however, which indicates that timing may be everything when it comes to preventing allergies.

Though they can’t say for sure, the researchers suspect that early exposure to pet allergens and pet-related bacteria strengthens the immune system, accustoms the body to allergens, and helps the child build up a natural immunity.

“Dirt is good,” says lead researcher Ganesa Wegienka, Ph.D., summing up the theory. “Your immune system, if it’s busy with exposures early on, stays away from the allergic immune profile.”

This isn’t the first study to find that having a household pet may protect kids from allergies, but it is the first to follow children until they were 18 years old.

Previous studies have had mixed results — some have even linked pet exposure during infancy to an increased risk of allergy — so it’s too early to recommend getting a dog or cat just to ward off allergies in your infant, says David Nash, M.D., clinical director of allergy and  immunology at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Although the researchers took into account whether the children’s parents were allergic to animals, they didn’t ask about a broader family history of allergies or other health problems. I could be that children who are genetically predisposed to animal allergies simply are less likely to grow up in homes with pets. The jury is still out. So don’t give you pet away if you’re concerned they will provoke allergies in your child as it may be that having a pet dog or cat around the house when your baby comes home is not a bad thing after all.

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Inhale, exhale … inhale, exhale …Asthma is more common than you might think! According to KidsHealth.org, “As many as 9 million kids in the United States have it. Asthma affects about 1 or 2 kids out of 10. That means if you have 20 kids in your class, 2-4 of them might have asthma. Asthma can start at any age — even in a little baby or an adult — but it’s most common in school-age kids.”

Asthma is a condition that affects a person’s airways. These tubes lead from the windpipe into the lungs. But for kids with asthma, breathing can be a lot more difficult because their airways are very sensitive. An asthma attack or episode happens when a person’s airways get swollen and narrower and it becomes a lot harder for air to get in and out of the lungs.

In between flare-ups, a kid’s breathing can be totally normal or seem that way. But during a flare-up, it can feel like the person is breathing through a straw. A kid with asthma may wheeze (a whistling sound when he or she breathes), cough, and feel tightness in the chest.

According to Michael Welch, M.D., clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, “In the past, doctors were reluctant to make the diagnosis before age 5 or 6. Now, it’s more common for doctors to diagnose a preschooler, a toddler, or even a baby with asthma.”

Why do kids get asthma?
There are a lot of reasons or triggers. Some kids are sensitive to allergens (ug! What I have!). Common allergens for kids with asthma include dust mites (tiny bugs that live in dust), mold (if you’ve ever been in a damp basement and smelled something funny, it was probably mold), and pollen (from trees, grass, and weeds).

Kids who have asthma should try to avoid things that can cause their airways to tighten. But some triggers — like cats, colds, and chalk dust — can’t always be avoided. That’s why kids who are sensitive to those things must manage their asthma by taking medication.

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4 Ways to Prevent Asthma at Home with your Kids:

1.  Limit dust exposure. Babies and toddler spend much of their day in their rooms, so removing dust from these common areas is a great place to start. Here’s how to cut down on the dust in your child’s room. 

  • Remove carpets and heavy drapes or try to vacuum them frequently to sweep up dust!
  • Wash all bedding and stuffed animals frequently in hot water
  • Purchase allergen-barrier coverings for the pillows and mattresses

2.  Protect your child from tobacco smoke. This is a significant asthma trigger. Some people think that smoking in a different room or outside is safe enough, but tobacco smoke gets into your hair and clothes, and your child then inhales it.

3.  Reduce or eliminate the pet factor. Many kids are allergic to pet dander. It’s best not to keep a pet at home if it triggers your child’s reactions. If that’s not possible, at least keep the cat or dog out of your child’s room.

4.  Kill those roaches. Living in New York, even the cleanest homes can have problems with cockroaches. This is a common allergen for urban children with asthma, and parents should do all they can to eliminate cockroaches from their homes.

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