Early allergy risk affected by prenatal pet exposure, delivery mode and race

Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital have found that babies who have been exposed to household animals whilst still in their mothers’ wombs have lower levels of IgE (Immunoglobulin E), an antibody linked to the development of asthma and allergies. The research, believed to be the first of its kind, is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. They analysed the levels of IgE in 1187 infants, all of whom were involved in the Wayne County Health, Environment, Allergy and Asthma Longitudinal Study, from birth to 2 years old. They found that total IgE levels were lower across the whole early life period when there was prenatal indoor pet exposure. This was significantly stronger in children delivered by caesarian section than those delivered vaginally, as well as in children of African-American descent.

Dr Christine Cole Johnson, chair of Henry Ford’s Department of Public Health Sciences also theorises that babies born through the birth canal are exposed to a higher and more diverse range of bacteria that boosts the immune system.

Source: The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

More research reports on infant and children

First Published August 2011

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