Cats are very lovable so it is understandable that many people would love to have them as pets. However, many people are also allergic to cats. Cat dander can make people get hives, sneeze and even cause severe allergic reactions to those who have weak immunities.
As such, having cats is a legitimate concern, especially for would-be-parents and those who have small kids. Are cats dangerous to babies and small kids? You will be surprised at what medical and scientific studies have revealed.
Will My Baby Be Allergic To Cats?
Dr. Tolby Epstein, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of immunology believes that ownership of pets early in life may even have a protective effect on children. He said that there have been multiple studies that have proven this. But he also said that it needs to be studied further.
In particular, there is a study conducted for 18 year olds which shows the same positive effect. The results of this study revealed that exposure to a cat or a dog during the first year lowers the risk in certain children. This study tracked 565 kids who are 18 years old since their birth.
The study showed that it was their first year exposure to cats and dogs that had a major effect on their sensitivities to animals later in their lives.
In other words, exposure to pets while they were babies did not matter at all as far as being allergic to pets is concerned. If these studies are true, it is unlikely that your baby will develop pet allergies.
The protective effect of the early exposure of pets to children is echoed by another study although in a different manner. This study revealed that this situation reduces the risk for allergic disease and overweight, especially if the infant was delivered through caesarean procedure.
It seems that the researchers of this study discovered that exposure to pets changed the microbial composition of the gut of babies. This alteration also changed their gut micro biome which worked well in reducing their health risks.
These studies show that babies exposed to pets during their first year will have lower risk for allergies. One study has also shown that one year old infants who have cats at home have approximately half the risk of being immune to cat allergies later on in their lives.
Chances of a Newborn Baby Being Allergic To Cats
The question is: what are the chances of your baby being allergic to cats? WebMD claims that about 10 percent of US citizens are suffering from pet allergies. Twice the allergies can be caused by cats instead of dogs.
If your family has a history of being allergic to cats, the chances of your baby catching the pet allergens is very high. According to the Asthma Center, the risk will considerably increase if both parents are allergic to cats or dogs.
In other words, if you and your partner are both allergic to cats, your baby will be genetically predisposed to some kind of cat allergy, although maybe not the same type as yours.
As the previous studies have shown having pets like cats and dogs when you are pregnant may even increase your baby’s defenses against allergies. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology did a study on infants from their births until they were two years old.
The researchers found out that the babies with mothers who have cats or dogs while they are pregnant experienced lower levels of the antibody that is associated with allergies and asthma.
Childhood conditions as well as the race of the child if combined with the presence of pets can also affect allergy risks.
Babies who were born of Middle Eastern or European parents with pre-birth exposure to pets have lower antibodies, about 33 percent, compared to families with no pets around. With black parents, their babies will have antibodies that are 10 percent lower.
Moms with pets at home and who have undergone caesarian deliveries will have babies whose antibodies are lower by 43 percent. But those who also have pets indoors but have normal deliveries will have babies with 16 percent lower antibodies.
When Do Pet Allergies Show Up In Babies?
Parents who are allergic to cats can get some comfort from a mom who has this condition. This particular mom claims that even if your baby is predisposed to allergy, he or she will be fine in his or her first year.
She said that nothing of this sort happened in her childhood. But she admitted that her allergies showed up later in her life. She assured would-be-parents that these cat allergies usually develop later.
In other words, you don’t have to worry about the allergy hitting your baby now. She admitted that her cat allergy started when she was in her late teens.
Can Cat Allergy Cause Eczema in Babies?
WebMD.com says that babies with homes that harbor cats have higher chances of developing eczema. This website based this claim in a recent study that exposed infants to cats shortly after their births.
The study revealed that one year old babies with cats at home had higher incidents of eczema than those who don’t have cats in their homes.
The researchers claim that the result of their studies contradict previous studies which suggested that the exposure to cats and dogs may help protect babies from skin diseases such as eczema.
One of the researchers, Esmeralda Morales, MD and a University of Arizona pediatric fellow said that the results of the study seem to add more controversy with regards to asthma, allergies and pets. She admitted that further research is needed since there are many contradictory data in these studies.
Regardless, medical experts at The Truth About Germs webpage advise parents from keeping their homes spotless and overly tidy in order to prevent allergies in their babies. They also re-emphasized the positive effects pets have on asthma and allergy.
Babies and small kids can be allowed in places where pets such as cats are around. If you take the necessary precautions, you don’t need to worry about your baby touching the cat. But don’t let your baby kiss it.