Beware of Cat Hair

From a multicentric Lifestyle – Immune – System – Allergy (LISA) study, Chih-Mei Chen et al. confirmed that there is increase in allergic sensitisation when a child is exposed to repeated contact with cat hair. This was found out on the basis of the detection of IgE-specific antibodies against cat allergens.

The objective of the study was to show the influence of lifestyle on the immune system and the development of allergies in children. It was published in the May edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The GSF – Research Center for Environment and Health and the Centre for Environmental Research Halle Leipzig (UFZ) collaborated with various other universities and clinical partners in questioning the parents of the children born between late 1997 and early 1999. The parents were asked to provide data about their family and health history. At the same time they were asked to give details regarding the frequency of contact with cats and other pets.

The researchers also collected the dust sample from the house of the parents three months after each child birth. Cat allergens as well as the content of IgE antibodies to cat allergens in the children’s blood were also taken into consideration. At the age of two and six years the blood tests were carried out.

The development of allergic sensitization due to exposure to cat allergens was confirmed by the longitudinal analysis done by the scientists. But six year old children showed lesser allergic sensitization. Dr. Joachim Heinrich, the head of the research unit Environmental Epidemiology at the GSF Institute of Epidemiology scored the reason, “Contact with cat allergens at home does not have the main significance in this age group”.

The scientists found that while 1.3per cent of two-year-old children had allergic sensitisation to cat allergens, it is 5 per cent in case of the six-year-old children.

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