Here’s another reason why dogs are man’s best friend.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, researchers analyzed data from the European EuroPrevall project to determine how demographics, environment, and infant diet are related to food sensitization (FS) among children and adults, focusing on early-life exposures. (EuroPrevall was a four and a half year data collection effort that sought to deliver the data and tools necessary for policymakers, regulators and the food industry to effectively manage food allergies across Europe.)
The researchers looked at data collected from 2,196 school-age children and 2,185 adults including such factors as the number of siblings, daycare attendance, pet ownership, growing up in a farm environment, smoking in the household, and infant diet including breastfeeding and the timing of introduction to infant formula and solids. They applied multivariable logistic regression on the data to determine associations between the exposure variables and sensitization to foods commonly implicated in food allergy.
Their conclusion: dog ownership in early childhood had a protective effect from childhood food sensitivity as did higher gestational age at delivery. The researchers could not confirm the independent effects of the other environmental and infant dietary determinants on FS.
This does not imply that other environmental factors do not play a role in the development of food allergies; looking at each factor independently, the researchers could not draw definitive conclusions from the data.
Important Note: The study’s conclusions do not imply that an early childhood with a pet dog prevents one from developing food allergies; they simply conclude that growing up with a dog lessens the chances.