Pet Series: Expose Babies to Pets to Avoid Allergies

Having a dog is not only good for your health – it’s good for your baby’s health, too. A study conducted in Alberta, Canada, and recently published in the scientific journal Microbiome, revealed some surprising results when looking at the relationship between allergies and childhood obesity with pet ownership.

The study, using a subsample of 746 infants who were conceived between 2009 and 2012, concluded that exposure to pets while in the womb through the first three months of the child’s life raised the quantity of two bacteria that protect children from obesity and allergies. Additionally, the study found that to-be mothers with a pet have a lower risk of passing Group B Streptococcus to their child.

So there’s no need to hide Rover from the new baby!

Allergies is the most common health issue for American children. Researchers believe that approximately 40 percent of children living in the United States have allergies (and 30 percent of adults), with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicting that about one in 20 children have food allergies in our country. Oddly, reports of food allergies in children have been increasing for decades. In 2007, the CDC reported that roughly 4 percent of children had a food allergy, with the current rate estimated to be around 5 percent.

Signs of allergic reactions in infants and children include:

  • Middle ear infections (in most cases, for children 2 years old and older)
  • Sore throats
  • Itchy throat or mouth
  • Raspy voice
  • Nasal congestion, drainage or itch
  • Sinus diseases
  • Enlarged adenoids
  • Poor sleep
  • Hives
  • Eczema
  • Stomach pain
  • Gassiness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anaphylaxis

There are other things you can do to enhance your baby’s immune system and prevent the onset of allergies:

Prevent milk allergies: By exclusively breastfeeding for four to six months, it may prevent the baby from developing milk allergies.

Prevent egg allergies: When a baby is fed cooked egg at four to six months, this could protect the child from developing egg allergies.

Prevent peanut allergies: Introduce your baby to foods containing peanuts around 4 months to 6 months old to greatly decrease the risk of peanut allergies.

Prevent gluten intolerance: Feeding your infant a wheat product around four to six months of age could help promote gluten tolerance.

Stop cleaning so much: A study published in 2014 found that newborns that were exposed to household germs, pet dander, rodent dander and roach allergens while they were an infant have a lower risk of developing allergies and asthma.

Opt to wash dishes by hand: A Swedish study published in 2015 found that allergies in children were less common when their families used hand dishwashing, as opposed to machine dishwashing.

You should speak with a professional allergist for proper allergy and asthma diagnosis and treatment for your child. If you fear your child is having an allergic reaction to food, consult your doctor immediately or bring the child to a hospital.

Protecting the health of your children and setting them up for success later in life is crucial. To learn more, check out Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups’ articles.

Managing Illness Parenting
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