According to a new study, children living with pet cats and dogs are less likely to develop food allergies. It can even help them prevent allergies during fetal development and early infancy.
The study was published in the PLOS One journal, which analyzed data from over 65,000 children from Japan. The study showed that kids who lived with pet cats and dogs were at 13 to 16% lower risk of developing any food allergies compared to kids who did not have pets or weren't exposed to pets.
According to this new study, children who were exposed to cats were less likely to develop egg, soybean and wheat allergies, while egg, milk, and nut allergies were less likely in kids exposed to dogs.
The study also found no association between turtles and birds and food allergies. Also, it was found that exposure to hamsters during fetal development was linked to nearly twice the risk of nut allergies.
According to experts, pet exposure may actually strengthen the gut microbiome of an infant, either directly or indirectly, through changes in the parent or indoor microbiome. However, the exact mechanism remains unclear.
We know that gut microbiome (the bacteria that live in our gut) has an important role to play in developing our immune system and may greatly affect the immune responses, particularly whether a person develops allergies or not, said the director of the Food Allergy Program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
According to the president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, dirt and other materials secreted by pets can be a good thing. Early exposure to these things can help prevent allergies as our immune system and gut are still developing.