MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Tove Fall, PhD
Associate Professor in Epidemiology
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Fall: We wanted to make use of the Swedish national dog registers to study the question of whether children exposed to dogs are at lower risk of asthma and compare this to children living in farming environments. Previous studies on this question has been inconclusive. We linked health and population data from all children born in Sweden from 2001-2010 with dog ownership data, and with this detailed data set, we found that children in dog-households had 13% lower risk for asthma at age 6, accounting for factors such as parental asthma, area of residence and socioeconomic status. Children in farming households were at even lower risk, which is consistent with many previous studies.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Fall: My take-home message from this study is that parents at this point do not need to worry about keeping their dog or getting a puppy when expecting a baby for fear of asthmatic disease. I do want to be clear that this recommendation is valid only for families without a child already having allergies. If they already have an furred-animal-allergic child, we do NOT recommend them to get a furred pet.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Fall: I see two main paths – one is to investigate if there are components in the inhaled air in dog-households that protects children from asthma and disentangle their mechanisms. If these components could be purified and safely inhaled, we would have a really exciting possibility to prevent future asthma. The other path would be to set up intervention studies, where daycare groups are randomized to meet dogs regularly or not and to test whether such intervention would be effective.
Dr. Tove Fall, PhD (2015). Children Have Lower Risk of Asthma In Home With Dog