herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Pets can cut risk of allergies in babies

Life with the family dog will give young children hours of loyal companionship, cherished memories -- and, in some cases, possibly even better health.

A study in the Journal of Pediatrics says that children with a family history of allergies may be less likely to develop eczema, an allergic skin condition, if they live with a dog when they are younger than one year.

But living with a cat may increase those odds, though only among children who are sensitive to cat allergen -- substances in pet dander, saliva and urine.

Given the complexity of the situation, it is hard to give parents specific advice about pets, said Tolly Epstein, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio, who led the research team.

But as far as eczema goes, a number of studies have shown there is a consistent relationship among dog ownership and lower risk, she added.

Overall, 14pc of the 636 children studied had eczema at age four. But that rate fell to 9pc among the 184 children who had had a dog in their home during infancy.

hnews@herald.ie

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