ATTENTION: CITY DESK/
Contact: Tom Capezzuto
UMDNJ Allergist Says Exposure to Cat Allergen
May Prevent Development of Allergies in Young Children
Cites Swedish Study Published in October Issue of
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Children who are exposed to high levels of cat allergen may never
develop allergies, says an allergy specialist at the University
of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) who backs a Swedish
study reported in the October 2003 issue of Journal of Allergy
and Clinical Immunology.
Researchers studied nearly 2,500 seven and eight-year-old children
for sensitization who were exposed to cats in their homes and
found that persistent exposure to high levels of animal allergen,
most commonly found in cats, appeared to protect against the development
of allergies in both boys and girls, noted Dr. Leonard Bielory,
director of the Asthma and Allergy Research Center at the UMDNJ-New
Jersey Medical School in Newark.
"The study showed that 80 percent of children who shared living
quarters with cats had a substantially lower incidence of acquiring
allergies when compared to new pet owners or children who had
not been exposed to these pets at home," Dr. Bielory said.
"There is an assumption that allergy symptoms increase when a
child who is allergic is exposed to the allergen has resulted
in the assumption that avoiding cats and other pets at home protects
against the development of an allergy to the animal," Dr. Bielory
said. "But this study disproves that theory."
The journal also reported that breast feeding may decrease the
risk of asthma and that a urine test may diagnose asthma in infants.
To discuss these findings with Dr. Bielory, call Tom Capezzuto,
UMDNJ News Service coordinator, at (973) 972-7273.