Pets Reduce Infant Food Allergies 2023


The Fukushima Regional Center for the Japan Environment and Children’s Study discovered that children who were exposed to indoor cats or dogs during early infancy or fetal development were less likely to suffer food allergies than those who were not.

“The hygiene hypothesis suggests that pet exposure is effective in preventing allergic disease, and some studies have reported the beneficial effects of dog exposure during fetal development or early infancy on food allergy,” the researchers stated in PLOS One.

“However, exposure to pets other than dogs on food allergies remains unaddressed.” Thus, the researchers examined how exposure to different dogs affected food allergy risk.

Babies who grow up with pets may be less likely to develop food allergies.

97,413 moms and children were studied. Questionnaires collected pet and food allergy data. Logistic regression analysis examined food allergy risk and pet species exposure. The investigation additionally addressed individual causal meals and exposure time throughout prenatal development or early infancy.

“Exposure to dogs or cats during fetal development or early infancy was estimated to reduce the incidence risk of food allergies until 3 years,” the researchers said. Dog and cat exposure lowered the likelihood of egg, milk, nut, wheat, and soybean allergies, respectively. However, hamsters “estimated to increase the incidence risk of nut allergy.”

The study has limitations. First, this study examined self-reporting and medical information from early pregnancy, delivery, and follow-up. This method yields useful insights, but memory accuracy is critical. The study does not prove that pet exposure causes food allergies.

As experts continue to examine this intriguing topic, pet owners and pregnant parents may find comfort in the potential that their furry friends may help their children’s long-term health and well-being.

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