Objective: To understand the triggers that may impact respiratory health in cystic fibrosis (CF), including the effects of pets, because environmental factors contribute to one-half of the variation in lung function in patients with CF.
Study design: A total of 703 subjects with CF were recruited through the US CF Twin-Sibling Study. Questionnaires were used to determine the presence/absence of cats and dogs in households with a child with CF. Questionnaires, chart review, and US CF Foundation Patient Registry data were used to track respiratory and infection outcomes.
Results: Within the sample, 47% of subjects reported owning a dog, and 28% reported owning a cat. After adjustment for demographic factors, dog ownership was not associated with any adverse clinical outcomes, and cat ownership was associated an increased risk in developing nasal polyps (aOR 1.66; P = .024) compared with noncat owners. Subjects who owned both cats and dogs were twice as likely to report wheezing compared with other subjects (aOR: 2.01; P = .009). There were no differences in prevalence and age of acquisition for the common CF respiratory pathogens Pseudomonas aeruginosa and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus between cat/dog owners and noncat/dog owners.
Conclusions: Cat ownership was associated with a greater frequency of developing nasal polyps and combined cat-dog ownership was associated with a greater rate of wheezing. Prospective studies are needed to confirm these associations and the potential psychosocial benefits of cat and/or dog ownership.
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