Having a dog may cut risk of childhood eczema, asthma: study

Having a dog may cut risk of childhood eczema, asthma: study

Moms-to-be, take note! Having a pet dog during pregnancy may significantly cut the risk of eczema and asthma in your baby even if they are allergic to the furry animals, scientists claim.

Researchers including those from Johns Hopkins University in the US conducted two studies. The examined mother-child pairs exposed to a dog. "Exposure" was defined as keeping one or more dogs indoors for at least one hour daily.

"We found a mother's exposure to dogs before the birth of a child is significantly associated with lower risk of eczema by age two years, but this protective effect goes down at age 10," said Edward M Zoratti, member of American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in the US (ACAAI).

"Although eczema is commonly found in infants, many people don't know there is a progression from eczema to food allergies to nasal allergies and asthma," said Gagandeep Cheema from ACAAI.

In the second study, researchers examined the effects of two different types of dog exposure on children with asthma.

The first type was the protein or allergen, that affects children who are allergic to dogs, researchers said.

The second type were elements, such as bacteria, that a dog might carry, they added.

Researchers concluded that exposure to the elements that dogs carry may have a protective effect against asthma symptoms.

However, exposure to the allergen may result in more asthma symptoms among urban children with a dog allergy, researchers said.

"Among urban children with asthma who were allergic to dogs, spending time with a dog might be associated with two different effects," said Po-Yang Tsou, from Johns Hopkins University.

"Although eczema is commonly found in infants, many people do not know there is a progression from eczema to food allergies to nasal allergies and asthma," said Cheema.

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