Study Shows Children with Pet Cats and Dogs Have Lower Rates of Food Allergies
Many parents or guardians say children cannot eat certain foods they love because these may trigger a food allergy, which is common in children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 8% of children in the US have food allergies. The agency also advised that total avoidance is the best way to prevent children from reacting to the allergen.
For years, health experts have warned parents. They said that having a pet around their kids may not be the safest idea. Considering that pets can also cause allergic reactions.
However, new research suggests that having a dog or a cat as a pet can prevent children from developing food allergies at a tender age.
A Japanese study published on March 29, 2023, explained that having kids grow around these pets early can reduce the risk of being allergic to certain foods by around 15% compared to kids without exposure to these pets.
Over 66,000 children were involved in this research. The researchers found that children exposed to indoor dogs in infancy had a lower risk of being allergic to milk, eggs, and nuts. On the other hand, children that grew up around cats were less likely to develop allergies to soybean, eggs, and wheat.
“Continued dog and cat exposure from fetal development to infancy were estimated to reduce the incidence risk of food allergies,” lead researcher Dr. Hisao Okabe of Fukushima Medical University said.
The research further revealed that exposure to hamsters might most likely increase the risk of nut allergies. In one note, the researchers stated. “The increased incidence risk of nut allergy with hamster exposure may be explained by the fact that hamsters feed on nuts.”
Dangers of Food Allergies
Dr. Okabe shed some light on the effects and implications of food allergies. “Food allergy is a condition that reduces the quality of life of patients and their families, imposes a significant medical cost burden, and is a major trigger of anaphylaxis, which is sometimes fatal.”
You may also like: The 7 Best Home Remedies for Seasonal Allergies
It is important to note that an allergic reaction can occur even if someone has exposure to only a small amount of the allergen.
Pet dogs and cats can reduce risk of child food allergies: study https://t.co/dQwdtl6KeZ pic.twitter.com/PJlcysENgE
— New York Post (@nypost) March 30, 2023
How Pets May Decrease Food Allergy Risk
The study’s findings may surprise many people.. Dogs and cats can also trigger allergic reactions. However, the researchers suggest that having pets around children may help their immune systems develop better. This can also prevent them from overreacting to food allergens.
Pets also bring a diverse range of bacteria, further explaining how this relates to the “hygiene hypothesis.” This hypothesis states that kids should have exposure to germs to develop healthy immune systems.
“The notion that early-life exposure to pets or older siblings provides an immunological benefit to human health stems from the hygiene hypothesis, first proposed in 1989 and subsequently supported by several epidemiological studies,” Okabe added.
Implications and Further Research
The researchers suggest that exposure to pets, especially during childhood, may help children’s immune systems. It can learn to recognize and tolerate different allergens, including food ones.
However, the researchers noted that this study was based n questionnaire with no objective assessment. Nevertheless, the authors believe that this study’s findings will be helpful in future research.