22 May 2006

Cats may up eczema risk

Exposure to cats shortly after birth raises a child's risk of eczema, new research suggests.

Exposure to cats shortly after birth raises a child's risk of eczema, new research suggests.

The study, which tracked 486 children until the age of one, was presented on Sunday at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Diego.

While 27.6 percent of kids with cats as pets developed eczema in that time, only 17.8 percent of kids without cats developed the dry skin condition.

On the other hand, being around two or more dogs in the home conferred a slightly protective effect, said lead researcher Dr Esmeralda Morales, a paediatric pulmonary fellow at the University of Arizona, in Tucson.

"Other studies have found that having cats or dogs at home seems to be protective against allergic disease, so we expected to have similar findings," Morales said in a statement.

Morales noted that the children in the study who developed eczema by the age of one might still wind up having a reduced risk of asthma or allergies later in life. "The findings do seem to add more questions about pets and asthma and allergies. Since there are a lot of contradictory data out there already, clearly it's a topic that needs further research," she added. – (HealthDayNews)

Visit our Allergy Centre for more information.

May 2006


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Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

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