According to a recent study, children exposed to cats and dogs in the womb or as infants have a lower risk of developing food allergies than adults. In this study, more than 65,000 kids were analyzed. The results were published in the journal PLOS One, which showed that 22% of people who grew up with pets had fewer food allergies than those who were not.
It was discovered that indoor cats reduced the prevalence of food allergies in children, particularly soybeans, wheat, and eggs. Children whose lives included dogs had a lower risk of developing peanut, milk, and egg allergies. Intriguingly, there was a 0.9% increase in the prevalence of nut allergies among children exposed to hamsters.
Can Dogs and Cats Reduce Children’s Allergy Risks?
The “Hygiene Hypothesis” was first proposed in 1989, explaining the study’s results. The potential role of the environment in increasing or decreasing the likelihood of developing an allergic disease has piqued the interest of allergists. The term “hygiene hypothesis” was coined to describe the idea that having more siblings and being exposed to farming reduces the risk of developing allergies like hay fever.
The results of a study conducted in Japan corroborate this theory, showing that exposing an unborn infant to an indoor pet can reduce the likelihood that the child will develop allergies later in life.
Does the Result of the Study Apply Anywhere Else?
Some allergists have even speculated that similar findings could be achieved in the United States. The prevalence of allergic reactions in the United States has increased dramatically.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, about 20 million Americans suffer from food allergies.
Evolution in a process called epigenetics is to blame for the rise. In this case, environmental factors activate the genetic code you inherited from your parents. Methylation, the process by which a gene is modified, occurs most frequently in early childhood and is responsible for developing allergic traits.
An increasing number of schoolchildren are developing peanut-related allergies. In a short time of 20, 30, or 40 epigenetic years, the prevalence of peanut allergy has skyrocketed to the point where more than half of today’s children may raise their hands if asked who among them has an allergy.
Although the PLOS One study found encouraging results, not all experts believe the same would be true in the United States. Different parts of the United States have vastly different populations, which can complicate matters.