Surprising New Info About Children, Allergies, and Pets

Written by: Susan Dunn...The EQ Coach

Have you wondered whether to get your child a pet or not? Does your family have a history of allergies and have you been told by your pediatrician it’s not a good idea?

There’s interesting news from the Medical College of George (MCG), evidence from a new study about children and pets published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that having pets may actually help with allergies.

Dr. Dennis R. Ownby, chief of MCG’s Section of Allergy and immunology has followed 474 babies from birth to age 7 and has found that children exposed to two or more in-door pets were half as likely to develop common allergies.

“Allergists have been trained for generations that dogs and cats in the house are bad because they increase the risk of you becoming allergic to the; we know that before you become allergic to something, you have to be repeatedly exposed to it.”

He and his staff were just as surprised at the results of their study as you may be reading it! “The data didn’t look the way it was supposed to; as a matter of fact, it was very strongly the opposite of what we expected to find,” said Ownby.

Ownby speculates that the reason so many kids have allergies and ashthma now is because we live too clean a life.

When kids play with cats and dogs, he says, they get licked. And that lick transfers a lot of Gram-negative bacteria that may change the way the child’s immune system responds, says Ownby. The “lick” gives them exposure to higher levels of what’s called “endotoxins,” the breakdown toxin from the Gram-negative bacteria.

According to an article from the Medical College of Georgia, studies from southern Germany and Switzerland are confirming that children of farmers, regularly exposed to animals, have less allergies than city kids.

Check it out with your pediatrician, but it may be getting a pet or two would be beneficial for your children's allergy resistance, as well as all the other benefits we drive from our beloved pets.

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