New Study Links Prenatal Pet Exposure, Birth Type, and Race to Childhood Allergies
Posted by Shifrah on Monday, August 15, 2011
Three key factors play a significant role in the development of early childhood allergy risk, reports Medical News Today in Prenatal Pet Exposure, Delivery Mode, Race Are Key Factors In Early Allergy Risk.

Henry Ford Hospital researchers "found that babies who have indoor prenatal pet exposure have a pattern of lower levels of the antibody Immunoglobulin E, or IgE, between birth and age 2. IgE is linked to the development of allergies and asthma." In addition, delivery through the birth canal and European, Middle Eastern, or Asian descent accounted for lower IgE levels than cesarian birth or African American descent.

The results of the study are published online at The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Key findings of the study, which is believed to be the first of its kind, are as follows:

• Indoor prenatal pet exposure accounted for a 28 percent lower IgE levels during infancy, as compared to infants with no such exposure.
• Among infants with indoor prenatal pet exposure, IgE levels were 16 percent lower in infants who had been delivered vaginally, as compared to those delivered by cesarian section.
• Babies who had indoor prenatal pet exposure and were of European, Middle Eastern, or Asian descent had IgE levels 33 percent lower when compared to African American infants, who had levels only 10 percent lower.

Christine Cole Johnson, Ph.D., MPH, chair of Henry Ford's Department of Public Health Sciences and senior author of the study summarizes the findings: "We believe having a broad, diverse exposure to a wide array of microbacteria at home and during the birthing process influences the development of a child's immune system." Furthermore, Dr. Johnson says the findings support the hygiene hypothesis.

For more on the hygiene hypothesis, see:

Germs Help Allergies More than Cause Them
Probiotics and Allergies

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