Dogs may help babies and children develop protection against eczema and asthma

Dogs may help babies and children develop protection against eczema and asthma

Children and dog
(Photo: Unsplash/Daniela Rey)

SINGAPORE: Babies and children with dogs at home may be protected from allergic eczema and asthma.

That is according to two studies presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting that took place on Thursday (Oct 26).

The first study found that women who had dogs at home since pregnancy had babies who were protected from allergic eczema.

The study examined mothers and their babies who were exposed to at least one dog indoors for a minimum of an hour each day. "We found a mother's exposure to dogs before the birth of a child is significantly associated with a lower risk of eczema by age two, but this protective effect goes down at age 10," said Dr Edward Zoratti, the study's co-author.

Lead author Dr Gagandeep Cheema said: "Although eczema is commonly found in infants, many people don't know if there is a progression from eczema to food allergies to nasal allergies and asthma. We wanted to know if there was a protective effect in having a dog that slowed down that progress."

Researchers of the second study believed that dogs' bacteria may have a protective effect in children against asthma symptoms. However, this benefit needs to be weighed against the effect of a protein from dogs that causes allergy in children.

"Among urban children with asthma who were allergic to dogs, spending time with a dog might be associated with two different effects," said lead author Dr Po-Yang Tsou in Science Daily. "There seems to be a protective effect on asthma of non-allergen dog-associated exposures, and a harmful effect of allergen exposure."  

This mixed result means that exposure to dogs is probably not recommended for children with asthma who are allergic to the animals. But it could possibly provide a new therapy to help ease symptoms by using the bacteria.

Source: CNA/bk