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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2012, Article ID 176484, 10 pages
Review Article

Perinatal Cat and Dog Exposure and the Risk of Asthma and Allergy in the Urban Environment: A Systematic Review of Longitudinal Studies

1Centre for Molecular, Environmental, Genetic and Analytic Epidemiology, School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Vic 3010, Australia
2Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Vic 3052, Australia
3Department of Allergy, and Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Vic 3052, Australia
4John Hunter Children's Hospital, Newcastle, NSW 2305, Australia
5Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Vic 3004, Australia

Received 2 July 2011; Accepted 26 August 2011

Academic Editor: Shau-Ku Huang

Copyright © 2012 Caroline J. Lodge et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. The literature is contradictory concerning pet exposure and the risk of development of asthma and other allergic diseases. Using longitudinal studies, we aimed to systematically review the impact of pet ownership in the critical perinatal period as a risk factor for allergies in childhood. Methods. Medline database was searched for urban cohort studies with perinatal exposure to cats and/or dogs and subsequent asthma or allergic disease. Results. Nine articles, comprising 6498 participants, met inclusion criteria. Six found a reduction in allergic disease associated with perinatal exposure to dogs or, cats or dogs. One study found no association. Two found increased risk only in high-risk groups. Conclusion. Longitudinal studies in urban populations suggest that perinatal pets, especially dogs, may reduce the development of allergic disease in those without a family history of allergy. Other unmeasured factors such as pet-keeping choices in allergic families may be confounding the association seen in these high-risk families, and further study is required.