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Dogs best for allergy children?

Thursday September 30th, 2010

Cats and dogs have different effects on children who are allergic to them - and dogs seem to be healthier, researchers report today.

A child who grows up with a dog may not develop the skin condition eczema even if they are allergic to the pet, according to a new study.

On the other hand, having a cat in the household seems to aggravate the risk of a child developing the problem - if they are allergic to cats, researchers said.

The perplexing finding has come from a study of more than 600 children in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

Researchers found that a child who is allergic to dogs faces a four times increased risk of developing eczema if the family does not own a dog.

The findings are reported in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Researcher Dr Tolly Epstein, of the University of Cincinnati, said she hoped the findings would help families make decisions about pet ownership.

She said: "Children who owned a cat before age one year and were allergic to cats based on a skin allergy test were 13 times more likely to develop eczema by age four years."

* A second study published this week suggests that pet allergies aggravate other allergies.

The Canadian study, reported in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, found that people who suffered allergic reactions from exposure to pets faced even more severe reactions when exposed to ragweed.

Anne Ellis, of Queen's University, Ontario, Canada, said: "If you have ongoing symptoms from perennial allergies, as soon as you add another allergen into the mix your symptoms develop much faster, and you may have a harder time dealing with it than others."

Journal of Pediatrics, DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2010.07.026

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Child Health | North America

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