THURSDAY, March 30, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to dogs or cats during fetal development or early infancy was associated with a reduction in the incidence of food allergies, with variation based on pet species and causative food, according to a study published online March 29 in PLOS ONE.
Hisao Okabe, from Fukushima Regional Center for the Japan Environment and Children's Study, and colleagues examined the effect of exposure to pets on the risk for food allergies in a prospective birth cohort study including 97,413 mothers and their children.
The researchers found that exposure to dogs or cats during fetal development or early infancy was associated with a reduced incidence risk for food allergies until age 3. The incidence risk of egg, milk, and nut allergies was reduced in association with dog exposure, while cat exposure was associated with a reduced incidence risk for egg, wheat, and soybean allergies. An increased incidence risk for nut allergy was estimated with hamster exposure.
"This study showed that the association between pet exposure during fetal development or early infancy and the incidence risk of food allergies until the age of 3 years differs depending on the combination of two factors: pet species and allergen type," the authors write. "Further studies using oral food challenges are required to more accurately assess the incident of food allergies. Nevertheless, the findings of this study shall aid in the design of future studies."