The influence of a dog or cat at the time of a baby's birth depends on the allergy history of the family. Most likely, there will be an influence of a pet. It will be positive in families without a history of allergic diseases and negative in the opposite case. This is the result of a German study on pet exposure and allergy in the first two years of life.
Soon after delivery, more than three thousand mothers have been asked whether they kept dogs, cats, birds or other pets at home and whether there have been cases of allergy in their families. Two years later, the same mothers have been asked whether their children had asthma, eczema, or hay fever.
In families without earlier cases of allergy, the early contact with a pet lowered the allergy risk in the baby by about 40 percent, relatively, which translates to a risk reduction from about ten to about six percent.
On the other hand, in families where cases of asthma, eczema, and hay fever have been observed earlier, the allergy risk of the baby was significantly higher if a pet had been around since birth.
Conclusion: For the majority of babies, pets in the household help to prevent allergy.
Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/locomotion/532541663/