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Adopting a pet could protect babies against asthma and allergies

10 Jan 2019

New research suggests that Asthma Australia and the upcoming RSPCA Qld’s Pop Up Adoption event could work together to provide health benefits for babies.

If you are expecting or have a newborn baby, new research suggests adding one, two or even five furry pets to your growing family could protect children from developing asthma.

A Swedish study of pet-ownership has found the more cats and dogs in the household during the first year of life, the less likely a child developed chronic conditions such as asthma, eczema and hay fever.   

While pets are recognised to provide mental health benefits the study, demonstrating a dose-dependent response between cat and dog ownership and allergy development, is the first study its kind.

With asthma now ranking in the top five chronic conditions patients present with to their doctor, Asthma Australia welcomes new evidence which furthers its understanding of the link between animals, asthma and allergies.

“If cats and dogs aren’t a trigger for your asthma or allergies, not only will a pet bring you other benefits, they might reduce the chance of your children developing allergies,” said Asthma Australia CEO Michele Goldman.

 “The study focuses on dose-dependency, so the more pets a baby is exposed to, the less likely chronic conditions like asthma presents in those children at ages 7-9 years old.

“Remarkably, the study shows children who are exposed to five or more pets in the first year of life presented with zero allergies,” she said.

With the RSPCA running their annual Pop Up Adoption event this weekend, if you were considering bringing a pet into the home, this could well be the ideal time.

“This research is very exciting,” said RSPCA Qld spokesperson Michael Beatty.

“We’ve always known of the huge benefits pets bring to people’s lives. Pet therapy is a growing every year, particularly in relation to physical and mental disabilities and post- traumatic stress disorders. Pets also bring tremendous comfort to the elderly and the lonely. But this research shows how pets can also help children with allergies and chronic conditions such as asthma. It’s terrific news and of course we’re hoping it will encourage more parents to take on a pet-or pets- when their children are infants.”

 “It’s important more research investigates these findings so we can understand more about the biological reasons behind it,” said Ms Goldman.

The RSPCA Pop Up Adoption Event is on Saturday January 12th at the Brisbane Convention Centre

The Swedish research paper is available to view on PLUS One available here.

Asthma Australia is the health peak body representing people with asthma, people can seek support by phoning 1800 ASTHMA Helpline (1800 278 462) or by visiting asthmaaustralia.org.au 

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Media contacts

Teresa Vella 07 3252 7677 | 0403 895 144 tvella@asthma.org.au

Michael Beatty  07 3426 9902 | 0415 385 602  mbeatty@rspcaqld.org.au   

Interviews:

Michele Goldman CEO Asthma Australia is available for interview

Michael Beatty, RSPCA Qld Spokesperson is available for interview

About Asthma Australia

For over 50 years Asthma Australia has been the leader in asthma health care, research and support. Asthma Australia delivers evidence-based preventative health strategies to over 500,000 people every year and provides support, training and resources to the primary health care sector. The organisation funds vital basic science and population health research contributing to national and international understandings of asthma and how best to manage the disease.

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