Growing up with pets may prevent infant allergies

June 14, 2011 1:47:49 PM PDT
It's enough to get tails wagging.

A new study in the journal "Clinical And Experimental Allergy," finds that living with a pet may protect infants from developing allergies later in life.

The theory is that early exposure to pet bacteria and allergens may boost a child's immune system.

These researchers actually followed more than 550 kids until they were 18 years old. They found that having a dog or a cat at any point in childhood, and for any length of time, did not raise the risk of the children having pet allergies.

In fact, there was about a 50% reduction in the risk of pet allergies for the teens who had a cat during the first year of life.

Having a dog had the same effect for boys, but not for the girls. The researchers weren't able to explain why.