New research suggests that pregnant women who live with pets have children with fewer allergies as long as those babies are also around the animals. A study from Japan found that babies who live with animals had a 13% to 16% lower risk of developing a food allergy. This is a significant new study that covered 65,000 children, and while more research is needed, it is a promising step in understanding the causes of food allergies.
According to Dr. Manav Segal with Chestnut Hill Allergy, the study supports the hygiene hypothesis, which suggests that being exposed to germs as infants is important for boosting the immune system and preventing allergies. “Having pets in the household may play a protective role,” says Segal. “We were meant to be exposed to bacteria, viruses, parasites.”
Food allergies are a significant problem for many people, and the numbers are going up. According to Segal, 8% of American children now have a food allergy, and he considers it an epidemic. This makes the results of this new study even more exciting, as finding ways to reduce the prevalence of food allergies is crucial.
Of course, pets aren’t protective for everyone, and this study doesn’t mean that having a pet will prevent food allergies. However, it adds to a growing body of research that suggests that animals aren’t harmful to a child’s immune system, and previous studies have shown that kids with pets have fewer seasonal allergies.
If you’re considering getting a pet or already have one, there are some things to keep in mind to ensure that your furry friend is not exacerbating any allergies. First, make sure to keep your home clean and vacuumed frequently to reduce pet dander. Additionally, you may want to consider hypoallergenic breeds or types of pets or look into allergy shots or medication to manage symptoms.
This study is exciting news for anyone concerned about the rise of food allergies. While more research is needed to fully understand the role that pets play in allergy prevention, it’s encouraging to know that having a pet in the house may have a protective effect. If you’re considering adding a furry friend to your family, don’t hesitate – you might just be doing your kids a favor!
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