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Boosters for Baby’s Immune System


New parents often worry whether having a cat or dog around the house will make their baby more prone to allergies, but that shouldn’t be a concern, according to Dennis Ownby, M.D., chief of the Allergy-Immunology Section of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. Research clearly shows that household pets don’t increase the risk of allergies, he says. In fact, there’s some evidence that pets may actually offer infants allergy protection. It all ties back to what Ownby calls the “hygiene hypothesis”; that super-clean, disinfected modern living ironically makes humans more prone to allergies. Ownby says having a pet may help desensitize babies’ immune systems, making allergic reactions of all types less likely. More research needs to be done, but Ownby says, “The take-home is that they certainly don’t do any harm and that there may actually be some protection.”

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