JOURNAL ARTICLE

Development of atopy and wheezing symptoms in relation to heredity and early pet keeping in a Swedish birth cohort

Anna Sandin, Bengt Björkstén, Lennart Bråbäck
Pediatric Allergy and Immunology 2004, 15 (4): 316-22
15305940
The role of pet keeping during infancy for the development of allergy and asthma is still controversial. The objective of this population-based birth cohort study was to assess the development of atopy and different wheezing phenotypes during the first 4 yr of life in relation to heredity and early pet keeping. The cohort comprised all 1228 infants living in a Swedish county who were born over a 1-yr period. The parents replied to repeated questionnaires and 817 of the children were skin prick tested both at 1 and 4 yr. Cat keeping during the first year of life was associated with an increased risk of a positive skin prick test to cat at 1 yr of age [odds ratio (OR) 2.2, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.9-5.6], but neither with sensitivity nor clinical symptoms of allergy at 4 yr. Dog keeping during the first year of life was associated with an increased risk of early-onset transient wheezing, but only in children with parental asthma (adjusted OR 4.3, 95% CI 1.5-12.1). In contrast, early dog keeping had an inverse association with sensitivity to pollen allergen at 4 yr (adjusted OR 0.3, 95% CI 0.1-0.9) and late-onset wheezing (adjusted OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.2-1.0). Thus, pet keeping during the first year of life was not associated with an increased risk of atopy at 4 yr, although a positive SPT to cat was more common at 1 yr. Our findings may even suggest that dog keeping during the first year of life might provide some protection from pollen allergy and late-onset wheezing and increase the risk of early-onset transient wheezing in children with heredity for asthma.

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