Children exposed to indoor pets during their mothers’ pregnancy have lower levels of an antibody that is associated with allergies and asthma
Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and elsewhere followed nearly 1,200 newborns from birth through two years of age, measuring their level of the antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE) from blood samples.
“Total IgE levels were lower across the entire early life period when there was prenatal indoor pet exposure,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The study also reported that the effect was greater for children exposed to pets prenatally who were delivered vaginally compared with those delivered by cesarean section. African American newborns exposed to pets, however, were affected to a lower degree.
“Pet exposure and delivery mode might be markers of infant exposure to distinct microbiomes [bacteria and other microorganisms],” the researchers concluded. “The effect of exposures might vary by race, suggesting a different effect by ancestry.”