These two authors contributed equally.
Meta-analysis of determinants for pet ownership in 12 European birth cohorts on asthma and allergies: a GA2LEN initiative
Article first published online: 21 AUG 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Munksgaard
Volume 63, Issue 11, pages 1491–1498, November 2008
How to Cite
Eller, E., Roll, S., Chen, C.-M., Herbarth, O., Wichmann, H.-E., Von Berg, A., Krämer, U., Mommers, M., Thijs, C., Wijga, A., Brunekreef, B., Fantini, M. P., Bravi, F., Forastiere, F., Porta, D., Sunyer, J., Torrent, M., Høst, A., Halken, S., Lødrup Carlsen, K. C., Carlsen, K.-H., Wickman, M., Kull, I., Wahn, U., Willich, S. N., Lau, S., Keil, T., Heinrich, J. and for the working group of GA2LEN – Work Package 1.5 ‘Birth Cohorts’ (2008), Meta-analysis of determinants for pet ownership in 12 European birth cohorts on asthma and allergies: a GA2LEN initiative. Allergy, 63: 1491–1498. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2008.01790.x
- Issue published online: 10 OCT 2008
- Article first published online: 21 AUG 2008
- Accepted for publication 13 April 2008
- birth cohort studies;
- pet exposure;
- pet ownership
Background: Studies on pet ownership as a risk or protective factor for asthma and allergy show inconsistent results. This may be on account of insufficient adjustment of confounding factors.
Aim: The objective of this study was to describe determinants of cat and dog ownership in European families with and without allergies.
Methods: Within the EU-funded network of excellence GA2LEN, we performed meta-analyses with data from 12 ongoing European birth cohort studies on asthma and allergy. Each of the birth cohort studies enrolled between 485 and 4089 children. Pet ownership, allergic status (asthma, allergic rhinitis, eczema) of parents and siblings, parental education, access to ground floor, and number of people living at home were assessed by questionnaires.
Results: Among the 25 056 families from seven European countries cats (14.9%) were more common than dogs (12.0%). Allergic family history significantly reduced the odds to own a cat (adjusted combined random-effect OR 0.91; 95% CI 0.85–0.99), or dog (0.90; 0.86–0.94). A higher parental educational level had even more pronounced effects on cat (0.84; 0.71–0.98), and dog ownership (0.61; 0.54–0.70). Elder siblings reduced the odds to own cats, but not dogs. Convenient ground access significantly increased the odds, whereas crowding at home was not associated with cat or dog ownership.
Conclusions: The chances to own a cat or dog were significantly reduced in allergic families, in parents with a higher educational level, and in homes without convenient ground access. In addition to parental allergies, social and housing factors should be considered as potential confounders in studies on pet exposure and allergic diseases.