Can pets pre­vent asthma?

The Week - Junior - - Science And Technology -

Asthma is a com­mon con­di­tion that can cause breath­ing prob­lems. When a per­son has asthma, their air­ways be­come swollen, which makes it dif­fi­cult for oxy­gen to travel to the lungs. This causes them to cough, wheeze or have a tight chest. Some things can make a per­son’s asthma worse, such as al­ler­gies (from pet hair or dust), ex­er­cise and strong smells. How­ever, a new study sug­gests that ex­po­sure to cer­tain types of al­ler­gens – such as dust mites or pollen – from a young age can stop chil­dren get­ting asthma when they are older.

To reach this con­clu­sion, sci­en­tists from the US stud­ied 560 chil­dren, who were at risk of get­ting asthma. Re­searchers also took dust sam­ples from each of the chil­dren’s homes, look­ing for cat, mouse and cock­roach al­ler­gens. What they found was that if chil­dren were ex­posed to these al­ler­gens be­fore the age of three, then they were less likely to get asthma by age seven.

Dr. An­thony S. Fauci, an ex­pert in al­ler­gies, be­lieves that early-life en­vi­ron­ment can in­flu­ence what con­di­tions chil­dren might de­velop.

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