Animal furs might represent a "proxy" for high and diverse microbial exposures within a critical time window of immune development. We assessed whether sleeping on animal fur shortly after birth is associated with asthma and atopy up to the age of 10 years. LISAplus participants (n=2441) from Munich and Leipzig, Germany, were included in the analysis. Animal fur exposure, cofactors and health outcomes were obtained periodically up to 10 years of age by parental questionnaires. Information on specific IgE to aeroallergens was available at 10 years. Cytokine-producing peripheral T-cells were assessed in a subgroup of children at 2 and 3 years. Confounder-adjusted associations were evaluated using logistic regression analyses. Sleeping on animal fur was very common (55%). In adjusted logistic regression analyses, sleeping on animal fur was inversely associated with recurrent early wheezing at 4 years (adjusted OR 0.75, 95% CI 0.61-0.93) and current asthma at 6 years (adjusted OR 0.56, 95% CI 0.31-1.01). Furthermore, sleeping on animal fur during the first 3 months of life was significantly associated with a persistently stimulated interferon-γ response until the age of 3 years. Animal fur could be an effective measure of creating environments associated with higher microbial exposure.
Copyright ©ERS 2015.