New research in Sweden found that growing with dogs is associated with a lower risk of asthma in children, especially if the dog is a woman.
Conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University, a new large-scale study looked at national register data for all children born in Sweden from 2001 to 2004, a total of 23,585 babies, who had dogs in their homes during their first year of life.
The researchers classified each dog by sex, breed, size and whether they were described as "hypoallergenic" and investigated the relationship between each of the characteristics and risk of asthma, allergic diagnosis, or prescription drugs for asthma or allergies at the age of six.
The team also takes into account all known factors that can affect the risk of children developing asthma or allergies, such as whether parents suffer from asthma or allergies and the number of siblings.
The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, show that the prevalence of asthma at age six is 5.4 percent, although certain dog characteristics appear to reduce this risk.
Children with only female dogs at home had a 16 percent lower risk of developing asthma than those raised with male dogs, and children living with two or more dogs had a 21 percent lower risk of developing asthma than those who only lived with one dog.
Children living with male dogs appear to have a similar risk to asthma in children who do not have dogs.
The researchers also found that children whose parents had asthma and allergies were more likely to be exposed to offspring anecdotally described as "hypoallergenic," compared to children whose parents had asthma and were allergic-free.
However, exposure to these breeds is associated with a 27 percent higher risk of allergies, although there is no increased risk of asthma. In addition, the researchers also failed to find a connection between offspring "friendly allergies" and low risk of asthma.
Although previous studies have found a link between growing with dogs and a lower risk of childhood asthma, it is not known until now whether the characteristics of dogs can also change this risk.
"The sex of a dog can affect the amount of allergens released, and we know that male dogs that are not confined express more certain allergens than neutered dogs and female dogs," explained co-lead author Tove Fall. "In addition, some offspring are described anecdotally as & # 39; hypoallergenic & # 39; or & # 39; allergic friendly & # 39; and is said to be more suitable for people with allergies, but there is no scientific evidence for this. "
"A possible explanation for this higher risk is that families with a history of allergies to furry pets more often choose these dogs, and also that dogs are allergic & # 39; do not release fewer allergens," added Catarina Almqvist Malmros, who helped. lead the study with Fall.
"This discovery must be treated with caution because we cannot say anything about true causality," he added. "More research is needed to monitor differences over time, measure the risk of allergies using biomarkers, and take into account microflora." JB
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