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Effect of cat and dog ownership on sensitization and development of asthma among preteenage children

By M. S. Perzanowski, E. Ronmark, T. A. E. Platts-Mills, B. Lundback

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An inverse relationship has been proposed between exposure to high quantities of cat allergen at home and both asthma and cat allergy. First- and second-grade children from Lulea, Kiruna, and Pitea, Sweden participated in an asthma questionnaire study (n=3,431) and incidence was evaluated over the next 3 years (1996-99). Skin testing was performed on the children in Lulea and Kiruna (n=2149). The strongest risk factor for incident cases of asthma was Type 1 allergy (relative risk [RR], 4.9 [2.9-8.4]), followed by a family history of asthma (RR, 2.83 [1.8-4.5]). Living with a cat was inversely related both to having a positive skin test to cat (RR, 0.62 [0.47-0.83]) and incidence of physician-diagnosed asthma (RR, 0.49 [0.28-0.83]). This effect on incident asthma was most pronounced among the children with a family history of asthma (RR, 0.25 [0.08-0.80]). The evidence also suggests that many of the children exposed to cats at home can develop an immune response that does not include immunoglobulin E. Weaker protective trends were seen with dog ownership. The traditional thinking that not owning cats can provide protection against developing allergy and asthma among those with a family history of allergy needs to be re-evaluated. In a community where cat sensitization was strongly associated with asthma, owning a cat was protective against both prevalent and incident asthma.

Date 2002
Publication Title American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Volume 166
Issue 5
Pages 696-702
ISBN/ISSN 0003-0805
DOI 10.1164/rccm.2201035
Language English
Author Address OLIN Studies, Department of Medicine, Sunderby Central Hospital of Norrbotten, Lulea, Sweden.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Allergy
  2. Antibodies
  3. Asthma
  4. Blood
  5. Carnivores
  6. Cats
  7. Children
  8. Developed countries
  9. Dogs
  10. Europe
  11. Exposure
  12. Humans
  13. Immunity
  14. Mammals
  15. OECD countries
  16. peer-reviewed
  17. Pets and companion animals
  18. Primates
  19. risk factors
  20. Scandinavia
  21. Sweden
  1. peer-reviewed