Is your dog bad for your health?

accreditation
A study, which followed 380 children at increased risk of asthma due to family history, found that those exposed to relatively high levels of dog allergen at the age of 7 were more likely to have asthma.

In contrast, there was no relationship between cat-allergen exposure and a child's risk of asthma, according to findings published in the journal Paediatric Allergy and Immunology.

Exactly why dogs were related to a higher risk of asthma, while cats were not, is not entirely clear. But one factor may be endotoxin, a substance produced by bacteria that is known to trigger inflammation in the airways, explained lead researcher Dr. Chris Carlsten, of Vancouver General Hospital in British Columbia, Canada.

Carlsten found that children exposed to dog allergen at home were not at increased risk of developing an immune-system sensitization to dog allergen itself. Therefore, greater exposure to endotoxin may at least partly explain the association between having a dog in the home and a child's risk of asthma.

"Dogs tend to have a lot of endotoxin on them, because they're dogs," Carlsten told Reuters Health. In contrast, cats have much less, he said.

So should families with a history of asthma or allergies opt for a kitten over a puppy, or no fluffy pets at all?

"This study doesn't answer it," Carlsten said. "And in general, there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against pets."

He said that for now, his advice to parents is to base the decision on their family's desire to have a pet, rather than the potential effects on asthma risk.

The findings are based on 380 children who were at increased asthma risk. At the outset, roughly half of the families were randomly assigned to an intervention aimed at lowering the child's risk of developing allergies and asthma. That included encouraging mothers to breastfeed for at least four months, and having parents limit their children's exposure to dust mites, pets and tobacco smoke.

Carlsten's team found that exposure to higher levels of dog allergen at age 7 was associated with a nearly three-fold increase in the risk of asthma. But that was only among children in the intervention group.

Neither cat nor dust-mite exposure in infancy or at age 7 was related to the risk of asthma. Children with high dust-mite exposure were, however, more likely to show an immune system reaction to dust-mite allergen.

According to Carlsten, the findings underscore the complexity of the relationship between indoor-allergen exposures and children's asthma risk. More research, he said, is still needed to understand those intricacies.

Has having a pet had any negative effect on your child’s health?
 
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
A Section 89 panel headed by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo found President Cyril Ramaphosa has an impeachable case to answer on the Phala Phala scandal.
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Ramaphosa should do the honourable thing and immediately resign.
24% - 1188 votes
Ramaphosa should follow due process and submit himself to an impeachment hearing.
29% - 1463 votes
Ramaphosa should fight the findings in court and keep his job at all costs
47% - 2334 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.49
+0.4%
Rand - Pound
21.48
+0.5%
Rand - Euro
18.42
+0.5%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.87
+0.5%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+0.4%
Gold
1,797.91
0.0%
Silver
23.15
0.0%
Palladium
1,900.00
0.0%
Platinum
1,020.00
0.0%
Brent Crude
85.57
-1.5%
Top 40
68,238
-0.9%
All Share
74,323
-0.9%
Resource 10
74,020
-2.7%
Industrial 25
91,592
-0.6%
Financial 15
15,398
+0.8%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE