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Studies show that children raised with pets are less likely to develop allergies. Below is an article about a 2002 study at the University of Virginia. Another compelling study was done in 2004 by the Medical College of Georgia Section of Allergy and Immunology and can be found at this link: http://www.mcg.edu/news/2002NewsRel/ownby.html

Cats OK for the Allergy Sufferer
Research shows that kids with a dog or a cat in the house are less likely to develop asthma. New research shows having a pet can even be protective.
By Charlene Laino, MSNBC

NEW YORK, March 4, 2002 – It’s a pet joke of many doctors: Tell the allergy sufferer to get rid of his cat, and he’ll get rid of the allergist instead. But the truth is, there’s not much merit to advice to give away the pet to begin with, one of the nation’s leading allergists said Monday.

Contrary to what’s long been advised, people who suffer from the itchy eyes, sniffling and sneezing of allergies need not get rid of their feline companions, said Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills, head of allergy and asthma at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

“You usually hear that families [with allergies] should get rid of their cats,” he said. “But we do not have enough evidence to say to families with allergies or asthma that they should do this.”

In fact, putting the cat out may bring bad luck – or at least worse symptoms, according to Platts-Mills. New studies show that if a child tests positive for allergies to pollen and dust mites, but negative for cat dander, and parents give away the pet, “it’s quite possible the child will become allergic to cats,” he said.

Another study shows that kids with a dog or a cat in the house get less asthma – with two pets being more protective than one. “One cat will do,” Platts-Mills said, “but two – two dogs, two cats, a cat and a dog – is even better.”

Why? It’s all part of the new “dirt is good for you” theory. Current dogma among allergists is that exposing a child early in life to dust, dander and other allergens will help the body to build up immunity against them – just like a vaccination.

Conversely, clean living has an adverse effect: Studies show that if children escape multiple infections or are not exposed to allergens as infants, their immune systems later overreact to dander or other things that cause allergies.

That’s why children who grow up on farms are less likely to develop allergies or asthma than those who reside in hermetically sealed apartments, Platts-Mills explained. Or why in Sweden, 80 percent of kids who are allergic to cats have never had a cat.

THE THANKSGIVING EFFECT

Other new research shows that the protection afforded by having a cat is not permanent, he said. “You raise a kid with a cat who has allergies, but not to the cat; he goes off to college, spends a few months away and comes back to visit,” Platts-Mills said. “But now he is allergic to that cat – he has lost that protection.”

Dr. John Costa, an allergist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, said he is also aware of the so-called “Thanksgiving effect.” “Perhaps a lucrative business would be cat hair-filled pillows for college students,” he joked.

In truth, though, it is not cat hair that provokes the runny nose, watery eyes and other symptoms of an allergic reaction, but rather their dander, or dead skin flakes, and a protein in the saliva, he said.

The experts spoke Monday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Also at the meeting, British researchers reported that contrary to common belief, modern, high-efficiency vacuum cleaners do not rid carpeting of cat dander – in fact, the newer models increase allergen levels just as much as the leaky machines of years past.

“Don’t let the more expensive models lull you into a false sense of security,” said Dr. Robin Gore of the North West Lung Centre in Manchester, England. “Even though they do not leak like the old vacuum cleaners, the new high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, machines stir things up, raising levels of dander-laden dust in a room,” Gore said. “The sweeping action may even blow settled dander off the walls and into your nose.”

WHAT IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC?

So what should you do if you are allergic to cats? Platts-Mills offered this advice:
  • Get rid of carpeting, which harbors allergens.
  • Replace upholstery with leather coverings.
  • Wash pets at least twice a week.
  • Use a HEPA air filter in the rooms. Animal dander is often airborne.
  • Cover mattresses and cushions with zippered, plastic casings to cut down on allergen build-up.

“No matter how allergic you are to cats, these simple measures can reduce symptoms by 95 percent,” Platts-Mills said.

This article was originally posted on: http://www.msnbc.com/news/718394.asp


Don't Give Up a Beloved Pet Because of Allergies
A. Van Bavel
(Permission to cross-post this article was given.)

All animals have dander and all guardians of these animals suffer to some degree from allergies caused by this dander. However, there is a way to mitigate, if not eliminate, the allergens caused by dander.

Both my husband and I suffer from allergies and these are exacerbated by kitties. However, after some research, we discovered that there is a way to eliminate the allergens caused by kitty saliva. Yes, a cat's saliva is the culprit!

There is a type of food mixture that we make and give them every morning (just a tablespoon). It has 1 part brewer's yeast, 1 part oat bran and 2 parts lecithin (found at health food stores). We mix that all up with soft cat food and water. It is refrigerated until gone (with 3 kitties, it doesn't last long). The brewer's yeast helps control the dander and provides a lot of minerals for the kitties. The oat bran helps eliminate hairballs, and lecithin helps it all go down smoothly and brings out the luster of their coat. They adore it, but don't give them too much!

You can also use brewer's yeast tablets as treats. They are a good source of B vitamins for your pet. There are vitamin mixtures available to promote healthy coats and a healthy coat produces less dander. Vitacoat is a good one. These products are available at pet supply stores.

We also brush their coats at least once a week – more if the season is changing, because they shed for winter and for summer. This is particularly important for older kitties, because it helps them keep their coat clean. For out-of-season shedding, there is a product called Mrs. Allen's Shed-Stop. It is made by Farnum, a company known for its holistic approach to allergies created by the fur on furry animals. Shed-Stop is composed of natural vitamins, minerals, oils and herbs. It supplies life-extending nutrients to follicles to condense shedding into a controlled seasonal burst instead of a prolonged process.

We also wash our kitties with premoistened wipes called Pals Quick Cleansing Wipes, which eliminate dander. Or, get a bottle of AllerpetC (for cats) and put it on a paper towel or washcloth. Though there are no premoistened wipes for dogs, you can get AllerpetD, which is for dogs of all breeds. There is also Nature's Miracle Dander & Odor Eliminator for both dogs and cats. It removes dander as well and comes in a spray pump bottle. You can buy these products from Foster and Smith at 1-800-826-7206. Their website is www.drsfostersmith.com. I'm not promoting this company, just suggesting where you can purchase these products. I believe other pet supply companies have similar products. This stuff works!

Carpet is the worst promoter of allergens. If you can’t get rid of your carpeting, there are other ways to control the allergens. If you live in an apartment, get your apartment’s maintenance staff to change your air filter once a month (they're supposed to do this anyway). Or, if you live in a house, set up a schedule to change your air filter once a month. Clean your ceiling fans at least once a month and when vacuuming, wear a face mask. A bandana will do the trick. Try and vacuum at least once a week. You could also get an electrostatic air filter for your home. They are available for about $15 at Home Depot. They work great!

Use these techniques and within a few days you should notice a BIG difference!