Who is the asthmatic child’s best friend?
Early-life cat exposure advantages for asthmatic children
Many children (not only!) love cats and dogs. Asthmatic children also.
Is it possible that early-life exposure to cats and dogs, in genetically susceptible children, increases risk of developing asthmatic disease? Early-life exposure to cats and dogs has shown diverging associations with childhood asthma risk and gene-environment interaction is one possible explanation. For this reason some Danish researchers have recently published at Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology their important findings. They investigated interactions between cat and dog exposure and 377 children with single nucleotide polymorphism rs7216389 variants in the chromosome 17q21 locus, the strongest known genetic risk factor for childhood asthma. They evaluated risk of asthma development until age 12 years and number of episodes with pneumonia and bronchiolitis from 0 to 3 years of age. Exposures included cat and/or dog ownership from birth and cat and dog allergen levels in bedding at age 1 year. They found that cat and/or dog exposure from birth was associated with a lower risk of developing asthma among children having rs7216389 high-risk TT genotype (95% CI, 0.04-0.71; P=0.015), with no effect in those with the CC/CT genotype. Moreover, cat allergen levels were inversely associated with asthma development in children with the TT genotype, no interaction was shown for dog allergen levels. Furthermore, the TT genotype was associated with higher risk of pneumonia and bronchiolitis, and this increased risk was decreased in children exposed to cat.
In conclusion, the study suggests a role of early-life exposure, especially to cat, for attenuating the risk of childhood asthma, pneumonia, and bronchiolitis in children with genetic risk factors.So, who is the asthmatic child’s best friend? The dog? Nope, the cat obviously…
Stokholm J, Chawes BL, Vissing N, et al. Cat exposure in early life decreases asthma risk from the 17q21 high-risk variant. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017 Oct 14. pii: S0091-6749(17)31439-2