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Does childhood with dogs reduce the risk of asthma?

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Children + dogs = allergies. And where there is an allergy, there is close to asthma. It turns out that this equality is fundamentally wrong. But how is it, isn't pet allergy one of the most common types of allergies? Perhaps the whole point is that people have started to have more dogs with a special, "hypoallergenic" coat?

Swedish scientists decided to find the answer to this question - Katharina Almqvist Malmroz from the Karolinska Institute and Tov Fall from the University of Uppsala. They analyzed a large body of data on the health status of all children born in Sweden from January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2004, whose first year of life was spent under the same roof as a dog. This is a little, a lot of 23,600 people. To find out what kind of animals lived with them, scientists turned to the Swedish Council for Agriculture and the Swedish Kennel Club.

Now the researchers, on the one hand, had medical histories of children at the time they reached 6 years of age - they were primarily interested in whether the children were prescribed medications for allergies or asthma. At the same time, many factors influencing the development of the disease were taken into account - heredity, geographical location, the number of brothers and sisters. On the other hand, the scientists got data about their dogs: gender, breed, size and the estimated degree of "allergenicity". But why should they know this?

Tov Fall, one of the authors of the study, replies: “The gender of a dog can influence the amount of allergens excreted. We know that non-castrated males shed more of a specific allergen than neutered males and female dogs. ” As for the so-called "hypoallergenic breeds", this definition at the time of the study did not have any scientific justification - are these dogs really as "hypoallergenic" as they are said to be?


Let's see what the scientists have found out. Among six-year-olds, 5.4 percent of children were diagnosed with asthma. Have the assumptions that dogs are "more allergic" than female dogs have been confirmed? It seems that yes. But this does not mean that by having a dog, you put your child's health at greater risk. The results show that the choice to live with or without a dog in this case does not affect the child in any way. But looking at families with female dogs, the risk of asthma in children was reduced by 16%. Further more. That is, more is better! Two dogs in a family - the risk is even lower, by 21%, compared to a "one-dog" family.

But before we multiply the number of dogs in the house, let's see what the research says about “hypoallergenic” breeds. In children with such dogs, the risk of allergy did not decrease, but even increased by 27%, while no association with asthma was found. Does this mean that poodles and labradoodles deliberately misled us?

Not at all. As Katharina Almqvist Malmroz, co-author of the study, explains, these breeds tend to be acquired by people who have already been diagnosed with allergies, in the hope that "hypoallergenic" animals cannot be the source of it. It turns out that "hypoallergenic" dogs are just a myth, and they have no advantages over their fluffier counterparts.

Nevertheless, scientists warn readers against radical generalizations - after all, this is the first large-scale study of its kind. So in matters of allergy, we have not yet found where the dog is buried.