Dog ownership is associated with reduced eczema in children with dog allergies

Sep 30, 2010

Children with eczema, a chronic skin condition that often begins in childhood, have a greater risk of developing asthma and food allergies. The number of children with eczema is rising, but the reasons for this are unclear. A new study soon to be published in The Journal of Pediatrics examines the relationship between pet ownership and eczema. Researchers found that dog ownership among children with dog allergies may reduce the risk of developing eczema by age 4 years; cat ownership, however, may increase the risk among children with cat allergies.

Dr. Tolly Epstein and colleagues from the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center gathered data from 636 children enrolled in the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy & Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS), a long-term epidemiologic study examining the effects of environmental particulates on childhood respiratory health and allergy development. Children enrolled in the study are considered at high risk for developing allergies because they were born to parents with allergies. The researchers focused on several potential risk factors for developing eczema, including dog and cat ownership. The children were tested for 17 separate allergies on a yearly basis from ages 1 through 4 years, and the parents completed yearly surveys.

The results provided interesting information regarding pet ownership. The researchers found that children who tested positive for dog allergies were less likely to develop eczema by age 4 years if they owned a dog before age 1 year. According to Dr. Epstein, "Children with dog allergies who did not own dogs were 4 times more likely to develop eczema."

Unlike dog ownership, cat ownership seemed to have a negative effect on children with cat allergies. "Children who owned a cat before age 1 year and were allergic to cats based on a skin allergy test were 13 times more likely to develop eczema by age 4 years," Dr. Epstein explains. She notes, however, that children who were not allergic to cats were not at an increased risk for eczema if they owned a cat. Dr. Epstein suggests that parents of at risk for may want to consider these findings when choosing a family pet.

Explore further: Survey: Percent of uninsured Texans has declined since September 2013

More information: The study, reported in "Opposing Effects of Cat and Dog Ownership and Allergic Sensitization on Eczema in an Atopic Birth Cohort" by Tolly G. Epstein, MD, MS, David I. Bernstein, MD, Linda Levin, PhD, Gurjit K. Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD, Patrick H. Ryan, PhD, Tiina Reponen, PhD, Manuel Villareal, MD, James E. Lockey, MD, MS, and Grace K. LeMasters, PhD, appears in The Journal of Pediatrics, DOI:10.1016/j.jpeds.2010.07.026

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fishy diet in early infancy cuts eczema risk

Sep 25, 2008

An infant diet that includes fish before the age of 9 months curbs the risk of developing eczema, indicates research published ahead of print in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Road pollution blamed for higher allergy risk in kids

Jun 13, 2008

New evidence blames traffic-related pollution for increasing the risk of allergy and atopic diseases among children by more than fifty percent. What's more, the closer children live to roads, the higher their risk.

Recommended for you

Changing cows' diet could help tackle heart disease

3 hours ago

Adding oilseed to a cow's diet can significantly reduce the harmful saturated fat found in its milk without compromising the white stuff's nutritional benefits, according to research by the University of ...

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

13 hours ago

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

HIV+ women respond well to HPV vaccine

HIV-positive women respond well to a vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), even when their immune system is struggling, according to newly published results of an international clinical trial. The study's findings ...

Revealing camouflaged bacteria

A research team at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel has discovered an protein family that plays a central role in the fight against the bacterial pathogen Salmonella within the cells. The so cal ...