Results of an eighteen year long study revealed that exposing children to pets at an earlier age might do more good than harm.
While popular belief holds that exposure to domesticated animals could kick off allergic reactions in young ones, research from the Detroit Childhood Allergy Study show that is just not the case.
In the study, published this Monday in Clinical & Experimental Allergy, researchers found that, for most of the childhood years, direct exposure to a dog or cat had little effect on later allergies. However, exposure lowered the risk for some children if they were exposed to a pet during their first year of life.
"We think this is a critical window," said study author Ganesa Wegienka, an epidemiologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.Specifically, the study- comprised of 565 children followed from birth to age 18- found that infants exposed to a pet in the first year of life were only about half as likely to develop a significant amount of antibodies to dog or cat allergens, a process called allergic sensitization.
"This research provides further evidence that experiences in the first year of life are associated with health status later in life, and that early life pet exposure does not put most children at risk of being sensitized to these animals later in life," said Wegienka in a news release.As the old adage says, timing is everything.