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Having Cat Helps Protect From Cat Allergy

Having Cat Helps Protect From Cat Allergy But Not Allergies In General

Living in a house with a cat might help stop children developing a cat allergy, but not from developing allergies in general.

New research by the Wellington School of Medicine’s Asthma Research Group shows that children who lived with a cat are less likely to be allergic to cats than children who had never lived with them, but just as likely to be allergic to house dust mites.

“We measured how allergic children were by measuring their antibodies to various allergens. We found striking differences between antibodies to cats and antibodies to house dust mites, with house dust mites antibodies 10 times higher than antibodies to cats. This may explain why sensitivity to house dust mites is more of a problem than sensitivity to cats,” says Asthma Research Group Director, Dr Julian Crane.

“The message for cat owning families is that it is a good idea to keep your cat to help prevent children becoming allergic to them. However, if a child does develop a cat allergy, and especially if they also have asthma, it is better to get rid of the cat,” he says.

Professor Crane says New Zealand is an interesting country to use in studies of allergies because we have a lot of allergic diseases, high rates of house dust mites, and are fond of keeping cats, most of which come indoors. The research was conducted together with researchers in the United States, and results published this month in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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