Having a dog at home not only serves to keep company, it could also protect children from asthma and eczema , revealed two studies presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting.
The first study shows that babies born in a home with a dog during pregnancy are protected against allergic eczema, a disease characterized by various types of swelling of the skin. Scientists determined that this protective effect declined only after 10 years.
“Although eczema is very common in children, many people do not know that there is a progression associated with it in which children can develop food allergies, nasal allergies and asthma,” said Dr. Gagandeep Cheema, a member of ACAAI and one of the authors of the study: “We wanted to know if the presence of a dog would have a positive effect on that progress that would slow it down.”
To perform this study, scientists examined mothers and children exposed to a dog for at least an hour each day.
“We found that exposure of a mother to dogs before the birth of a child is significantly associated with a lower risk of eczema by age 2, but this protective effect decreases by 10 years,” said Dr. Edward M. Zoratti.
In the second study, researchers examined the effects of two different types of dog exposure in children with asthma. The first type was the protein, or allergen, that affects children who are allergic to dogs. The second type were elements, such as bacteria, that a dog might have.
Scientists concluded that exposure to the elements (bacteria) that dogs carry can have a protective effect against asthma symptoms. However, exposure to allergen may lead to more asthma symptoms among children with a dog allergy.