Pet dogs reduce child allergies. But cats increase them

Owning a cat in childhood could increase the chances of eczema, though a dog could reduce the chances

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Children who have a pet dog have a smaller risk of developing allergies such as eczema than children with no pets, while cat owners are at a higher risk, says a new study.

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Researchers gathered data on 636 children who were considered ‘high risk’ as their parents had allergies, reports the Telegraph. The children were tested for 17 different allergies on a yearly basis from one to four years.

They found that while children with a pet dog had their chance of developing allergies reduced by as much as four times, a child with a pet cat had a dramatic increase in their sensitivity.

“Children who owned a cat before the age of one and were allergic to cats based on a skin allergy test were 13 times more likely to develop eczema by the age of 4,” said Dr Tolly Epstein, who led the research.

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Dr Tolly added that if a child didn’t have a cat allergy however, they were at no increased risk of developing eczema.

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