MedPage Today: Dogs, Mom's Best Friend for Reducing Eczema Risk in Toddlers?
Kids had lower risk when mothers kept dogs while pregnant
by Molly Walker
Children whose mothers had a dog while they were pregnant were significantly less likely to develop atopic dermatitis, or eczema, as toddlers, a researcher here found.
At age 2, children with prenatal dog exposure had a significant reduced risk of eczema compared to children whose mothers were not exposed to dogs (OR 0.48, 95% CI 0.30-0.76, P=0.002), reported Gagandeep Cheema, MD, of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and colleagues.
But the significance of this effect did not extend into older childhood. The reduced risk of eczema for children with prenatal dog exposure only trended towards persistence of this effect at age 10, but was still non-significant (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.37-1.05, P=0.077).
At a presentation at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology annual meeting, Cheema said that prior research has found that exposure to dogs during infancy is linked with a lower risk of eczema in early childhood, but it was unclear if this effect persists into late childhood.
"Children with eczema can also develop asthma, allergic rhinitis and food allergies, so we thought it was important to look at potential modifiable risk factors," she said.
Families with allergies shouldn't necessarily get dogs if they don't like them, but if they are 'dog people' they should not avoid getting one due to family history of allergies. But it could really be man's best friend
Jay Portnoy, MD, of Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, who was not involved with the study, said that early dog exposure associated with a lower risk of eczema has been suspected for a long time, but "this study confirms it and is large enough to provide confidence in the results."
"Families with allergies shouldn't necessarily get dogs if they don't like them, but if they are 'dog people' they should not avoid getting one due to family history of allergies. But it could really be man's best friend," Portnoy told MedPage Today.
Learn more about the services offered by the Division of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at Children's Mercy.