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More reasons to Love your dog Babies born in a home with a dog and exposure to dogs at a young age may protect chidren against childhood eczema and asthma, which can lead to food allergies later in life t e x t b y r e g g i e e l l i s T wo studies being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting show there may be even more reason to love your dog. The first study shows babies born in a home with a dog dur- ing pregnancy receive protection from al- lergic eczema, though the protective effect goes down by age 10. A second study shows dogs may provide a protective effect against asthma, even in children allergic to dogs. "Although eczema is commonly found in infants, many people don't know there is a progression from eczema to food allergies to nasal allergies and asthma," says allergist Gagandeep Cheema, MD, ACAAI member and lead author. The study examined mother-child pairs exposed to a dog. "Exposure" was defined as keeping one or more dogs indoors for at least one hour daily. "We found a mother's exposure to dogs before the birth of a child is significantly associated with lower risk of eczema by age 2, but this protective effect goes down at age 10," says allergist Edward M. Zoratti, MD, ACAAI member and a study co-author. In the second study, researchers exam- ined the effects of two different types of dog exposure on children with asthma in Baltimore. The first type was the protein, or allergen, that affects children who are aller- gic to dogs. The second type were elements, such as bacteria, that a dog might carry. "There seems to be a protective effect on asthma of non-allergen dog-associated exposures, and a harmful effect of allergen exposure," says Po-Yang Tsou, MD, MPH, lead author. People with dog allergy should work with their allergist to reduce exposure. ACAAI has additional tips for those with dog al- lergy who keep a dog in the home: Keep your dog out of your bedroom and restrict it to only a few rooms. But know that keeping the dog in only one room will not limit the allergens to that room. After you pet or hug your dog, wash your hands with soap and water. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaners that run continuously in a bed- room or living room can reduce allergen levels over time. Regular use of a high-effi- ciency vacuum cleaner or a central vacuum can also reduce allergen levels. Giving your dog a bath at least once a week can reduce airborne dog allergen. 16 | CENTRAL VALLEY MEDICAL | WINTER 2017-18 ALLERGY/ASTHMA

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