Researchers at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center may have found a new way for families to prevent eczema in their children: Adopt a dog.
The researchers studied 636 newborns at risk for developing asthma, allergies, or eczema, and found that children with dog allergies who lived in a house with dogs were far less likely to develop eczema than were allergic children who lived with no dogs. Conversely, children with dog allergies who did not own dogs were four times more likely to develop eczema.
On the other hand, children with cat allergies who lived with cats were more likely to develop eczema than were allergic children who lived in a cat-free house.
While researchers are still looking for a cause of the recent rise in childhood eczema, the study proves that dogs may be an ideal pet for families with allergy-ridden children.
“The number of children with allergic eczema is rising, but the reasons for this are unclear,” says Tolly Epstein, MD, corresponding author of the study and assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “Our research suggests that exposure to dog allergens early in life may actually have a protective effect against developing future allergies among a high-risk population.”