Pets, Pregnancy and Your Baby's Allergy Risk

Keeping Rover and Fluffy around while you're expecting is a boon for your little one's health


Having a dog or cat in the house during pregnancy may help protect your baby against allergies. Researchers in a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology examined babies from birth to age 2 and found that those whose moms had lived with indoor pets during pregnancy had lower levels of an antibody linked to asthma and allergies.

Race and mode of childbirth combined with pet ownership also influenced risk. Children of Asian, European or Middle Eastern descent with prenatal exposure to indoor pets had 33 percent lower antibodies compared with kids whose moms hadn't kept pets indoors; in black children of moms with pets, antibodies were 10 percent lower.

Babies who were exposed in utero to pets and born by Cesarean section had 43 percent lower antibody levels compared with just 16 percent lower for those similarly exposed but born vaginally.

Experts in our The Truth About Germs page stress that you don't need to keep your home virtually spotless to head off allergies in your little one, re-emphasizing that pets can have a positive effect on allergy and asthma.

Parents, just because you're having a baby doesn't mean that it's time to say, "Move over, Rover!" Small children and dogs (and cats!) do mix, parents just have to do some prep work before your other bundle of joy arrives.