It is unknown whether family members with detectable specific immunoglobulin E (sIgE) and/or allergic symptoms to pets are more or less likely to reside in a household with pets. We cross-sectionally investigated potential relationships between family members' allergic sensitization and symptoms to dogs and cats and current household pet-keeping practices, using birth cohort data. Blood samples taken from children enrolled in a birth cohort and their biological mothers and fathers, when the children were aged 18 years, were assessed for sIgE to dog and cat allergens. Interviews assessed subjects' self-reported pet exposure symptoms, current household pet-keeping practices, and socioeconomic characteristics. Overall, household dog or cat keeping was not associated with sIgE to these animals and/or self-reported allergic symptoms in the presence of these animals, even after controlling for factors such as education and household income. In subgroup analyses, current household dog keeping among dog-symptomatic teens (n = 40) was significantly lower than among teens who were not dog symptomatic (n = 289), at 48.8 and 61.1%, respectively (p = 0.036). Current household cat keeping was significantly lower among cat-symptomatic mothers (n = 27) compared with mothers who were not cat symptomatic (n = 120), at 24.3 and 37.0%, respectively (p = 0.015). However, when considering those who were both sensitized and reported symptoms, only the mother and cat-keeping associations persisted (p = 0.049). When cat-sensitized mothers report allergic symptoms to cats, these pets may be less likely to be kept in homes. Elevated dog and cat allergen sIgE does not appear to be associated with the keeping of these pets.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine