A Japanese study on children found that those exposed to cats or dogs during foetal development and early infancy tend to have less food allergies.
Hisao Okabe and colleagues from the Fukushima Regional Centre for the Japan Environment and Children’s Study, Japan, studied 66,125 children and found that 22 per cent of the children had been exposed to pets during the foetal period, and those exposed to indoor dogs, were less likely to experience egg, milk, and nut allergies.
Those children exposed to cats were significantly less likely to have egg, wheat, and soybean allergies, while those exposed to hamsters had a significantly higher incidence of nut allergies.
Across a number of high-income countries, more than one in ten children are diagnosed with food allergies and the incidence of food allergies continues to rise.
It should be noted that the data used was self-reported (supplemented by medical record data gathered during the first trimester of pregnancy, at delivery, and at the one-month check-up) so relies on the accurate recall of participants.
Okabe and colleagues from the Fukushima Regional Centre for the Japan Environment and Children’s Study, Japan, published their findings in open-access journal PLOS ONE.