Do you have a baby or young toddler who is at risk for allergies? Perhaps your little one is predisposed to the condition because of a family history of allergies that exists. If so, you may be going to great lengths to avoid your child's exposure to a host of allergens, including pets. Up until now, researchers have advised this as the best way to help prevent the development of kids' allergies and related symptoms.

But some researchers now are contradicting these earlier recommendations, saying that one of the best things you can do for your newborn may be to raise him or her in the presence of cats or dogs right from an early age. This can actually be an important protective factor in kids' allergies in some cases.

A New Approach to Kids' Allergies

Some of the newest data reveals that when it comes to kids' allergies, children who are exposed to dogs and cats in their first twelve months of life may find that this step helps to protect them from developing allergies and asthma in future years. This is encouraging news, especially since the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports that almost three-quarters of all households today have a cat or a dog.  But in fact, one pet actually isn't enough to gain the health benefit, according to researchers. Interestingly enough, an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that having only one dog or cat actually increased the risk of having allergies, while having TWO or more pets in the first year significantly decreased the kids' allergies and response to multiple triggers at the age 6 or 7.

Other Kids' Allergies Prevention Steps

Despite these findings, though, the experts warn that you should talk to your pediatrician first before you run out and invest in a few pets for your baby or toddler.

If you do already have a pet or multiple pets, though, the American Academy of Pediatrics stresses the importance of helping to minimize the allergy risks for young children. For instance, the organization recommends keeping the animals out of your child's bedroom and also cleaning often to remove pet hair and dander.

For older children with pet allergies who have a much-loved family pet, if these strategies aren't enough to prevent or reduce kids' allergies and the related symptoms, sometimes using allergy control medications and/or getting allergy shots to desensitize them can be enough to reduce the reaction so they can enjoy their furry friends without any ill effects.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology  (AAAAI)

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)