Exposure to pets and atopy-related diseases in the first 4 years of life

Allergy. 2001 Apr;56(4):307-12. doi: 10.1034/j.1398-9995.2001.00881.x.


Background: It is still unclear how early-life exposure to pets is related to children's risk of developing atopy-related diseases. We estimated associations between early-life exposure to pets and atopy-related diseases at 0-4 years of life in a cohort of Norwegian children.

Methods: A population-based cohort of 2531 children born in Oslo, Norway, was followed from birth to the age of 4 years. Information on early-life exposure to pets, a number of possible confounders, and atopy-related diseases was mainly collected by questionnaire.

Results: In logistic regression analysis adjusting for potential confounders, the odds ratio for being exposed to pets in early life (reference category: not exposed) was, for bronchial obstruction at 0-2 years of life, 1.2 (95% confidence interval 0.9, 1.8); for asthma at the age of 4 years, 0.7 (0.5, 1.1); for allergic rhinitis at the age of 4 years, 0.6 (0.4, 1.0); and for atopic eczema at 0-6 months of life, 0.7 (0.5, 0.9).

Conclusions: The results indicate that early-life exposure to pets or lifestyle factors associated with exposure to pets reduce the risk of developing atopy-related diseases in early childhood. However, these findings might also be explained by selection for keeping pets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic*
  • Cats
  • Child Welfare
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Dogs
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / chemically induced*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects