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A Dog in the Home: Less Asthma and Eczema for Kids?

Babies living in a home with a dog are less likely to develop asthma and eczema than others without furry friends at home.

Parents may be able to reduce the chance of their children developing asthma with a simple approach: get a dog. Two studies presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology showed that when there is a dog in the home during a pregnancy, babies are less likely to develop asthma and eczema.

How Dogs Affect Asthma and Eczema:

The story is a bit more complicated, of course. The investigators studying eczema found that the protective effect faded by the time the kids were ten. However, other researchers have reported that the risk of allergic eczema is strongly reduced in children whose families had pet dogs when they were born (Thorsteinsdottir et al, Allergy, Dec. 2016).

The study on asthma found that children who are allergic to dogs have negative reactions to the proteins dogs produce. This is consistent with previous research (Gergen et al, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. In Practice, online July 7, 2017).

However, other dog-related elements such as bacteria seem to reduce the chance of asthma in exposed children. Early exposure to such microbes increases the diversity of a child’s gut microbiome (Gupta, Nature, March 30, 2017). Presumably, this orients the baby’s immune system to reduce the likelihood of allergic conditions such as asthma and eczema.

ACAAI Annual Meeting, Oct. 26-30, 2017

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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