AR-News: AAAAI: Avoiding Pets May Not Prevent Allergies

Mary Finelli hello_itz_me at
Thu Oct 9 13:37:19 EDT 2003

>From the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology press release, October 8, 

Milwaukee -- Exposure to high levels of cat allergen as a child may prevent 
the development of allergies, according to a study published in the October 
2003 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI). The JACI is the 
peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & 
Immunology (AAAAI).

Researchers found that avoiding having cats or dogs as pets may not protect 
against the development of allergies. Eva Ronmark, PhD, and colleagues from 
the Obstructive Lung Disease in Northern Sweden Study Group and the 
University of Virginia at Charlottesville studied 2,454 children in Northern 
Sweden, ages 7 to 8 years. The children were skin tested originally in 1996 
and again in 2000. In addition, parents completed questionnaires each year 
asking about risk factors.

The study found that, despite cat being the most common allergens of 
sensitization, keeping these animals at home was not related to an increased 
risk for the development of sensitization between age 7 and age 11. Children 
who continually owned cats or dogs had a lower incidence of developing 
allergies to the animal compared to new pet owners and to those who had only 
been exposed earlier in life. Among the children allergic to cats, 80% had 
never kept a cat at home.

Researchers found that persistent exposure to high levels of cat and dog 
allergen appears to be protective against the development of an allergy 
among both boys and girls.

The fact that allergy symptoms increase when a person who is allergic is 
exposed to the allergen has resulted in the assumption that avoiding cats 
and other pets at home protects against the development of an allergy to the 
animal. The current findings from the October JACI study go against 
traditional thinking that increased exposure to cats and dogs results in 
more severe symptoms.

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