Pet dogs and cats may reduce risk of child food allergies

Pets have long been known to provide emotional and social support to families, but a recent study suggests they may also help in reducing allergies.

Researchers from the Japan Environment and Children’s Study found that children who were exposed to pet cats or dogs during their early infancy or fetal development were less likely to develop food allergies. This study is the largest of its kind, covering over 66,000 infants until the age of three. 

According to the study, children who grew up with indoor dogs were significantly less likely to develop food allergies, particularly egg, milk, and nut allergies. The researchers found similar results in children exposed to cats, but the correlation was not as strong. They believe the exposure to the bacteria found in pet hair and skin may be responsible for the positive effect.

This study is not the first of its kind to link pet exposure with fewer allergies in children. Previous research has suggested that early childhood exposure to pets can help to strengthen a child's immune system, reducing their risk of allergies, asthma and eczema.

It's important to note that while this study suggests that pet exposure may be beneficial, it may not be the only factor at play. Other variables, such as a family's genetic makeup and exposure to pollution, may also play a role in the development of food allergies.

The recent Japanese study provides an interesting insight into the potential benefits of exposing children to pets during their early development. While the study points to a correlation between pet exposure and lower rates of food allergies, it's important to remember that multiple factors contribute to the development of allergies.

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