Results from the study led by Hisao Okabe from the Fukushima Regional Center, Japan, indicated that children exposed to pet cats or dogs during fetal development or early infancy have fewer food allergies compared to their counterparts.
Okabe and his colleagues conducted a nationwide, prospective birth cohort study and analyzed the exposure of over 65,000 infants to various pets and food allergies in Japan. 22% of these infants were exposed to indoor pets (commonly dogs and cats) during fetal period. Researchers reported that pet exposure significantly reduced the incidence of food allergies in these infants. However, no significant difference was found for children in households with outdoor dogs.
Data used in the study were self-reported; the results of this study are reliant on the accuracy of the subjects’ contribution and participation. The team also emphasized how the study does not determine a causative link between pet exposure and food allergy incidence but that the study results could aid and guide- future research into the mechanisms behind childhood food allergies.