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Exposure to pets and atopic dermatitis during the first two years of life. A cohort study

Authors

  • Angelika Zirngibl,

    1. GSF National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany,
    2. Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Institute of Medical Data Management, Biometrics and Epidemiology, Chair of Epidemiology, Munich, Germany,
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  • Kaethe Franke,

    1. GSF National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany,
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  • Ulrike Gehring,

    1. GSF National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany,
    2. Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Institute of Medical Data Management, Biometrics and Epidemiology, Chair of Epidemiology, Munich, Germany,
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  • Andrea Von Berg,

    1. Marien-Hospital Wesel, Department of Pediatrics, Wesel, Germany,
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  • Dietrich Berdel,

    1. Marien-Hospital Wesel, Department of Pediatrics, Wesel, Germany,
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  • Carl Peter Bauer,

    1. Technical University of Munich, Department of Pediatrics, Munich, Germany,
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  • Dietrich Reinhardt,

    1. Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Department of Pediatrics, Munich, Germany
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  • H.-Erich Wichmann,

    1. GSF National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany,
    2. Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Institute of Medical Data Management, Biometrics and Epidemiology, Chair of Epidemiology, Munich, Germany,
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  • Joachim Heinrich,

    1. GSF National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany,
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  • for the GINI study group

    1. GSF National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany,
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Angelika Zirngibl, GSF-National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Ingolstaedter Landstr. 1, D-85764 Neuherberg, Germany
Tel.: + 49-89-3187-3208
Fax: + 49-89-3187-3380
E-mail: zirngibl@gsf.de

Abstract

The aim of this study was to assess the association between keeping pets in early childhood and the occurrence of atopic dermatitis in an ongoing birth cohort followed up to the age of 2 years. We analyzed data of 4578 children in the intervention and observation part of an ongoing cohort study. The children were recruited at birth in the two study regions Wesel and Munich between January 1996 and June 1998. Information on atopic diseases and pet ownership was obtained by questionnaire at the child's first and second birthday. The logistic regression model showed a negative association between ‘keeping any pet’ and in particular ‘keeping dogs’ in the 1st year of life and the development of atopic dermatitis in the 1st and the 2nd years of life. The protective effects remained statistically significant after adjusting for several possible confounding variables (1st yearany pet OR 0.71, 95% CI [0.55;0.92], 1st yeardog OR 0.62, 95% CI [0.39;0.98], 2nd yearany pet OR 0.74, 95% CI [0.57;0.97], 2nd yeardog OR 0.63, 95% CI [0.40;0.98]). Ownership of small furred pets (hamster, rabbit and guinea pig) also showed a borderline protective effect for the 1st year. We assume an association between keeping pets and undefined environmental factor(s) that contribute protectively to the development of atopic dermatitis in early life, presumably by effects on the maturation of the immune system.

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