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Man's best friend? The effect of pet ownership on house dust microbial communities

      The prevalence of asthma among children has been steadily increasing in westernized nations. Although host genotype likely plays a role in predisposition to allergic disease, the rate at which asthma has increased and the geographically distinct location of this phenomenon implicate environmental factors as being important. Epidemiologic studies have suggested that contact with animals provides protection against allergic disease development
      • von Mutius E.
      • Radon K.
      Living on a farm: impact on asthma induction and clinical course.
      ; childhood farm exposure, specifically to livestock, is associated with a significant decrease in the risk of atopic sensitization, a protective effect that persists into early adulthood. More recently, in our own birth cohort, maternal prenatal exposure to household pets, particularly dogs, has been suggested to affect fetal immune response development.
      • Aichbhaumik N.
      • Zoratti E.M.
      • Strickler R.
      • Wegienka G.
      • Ownby D.R.
      • Havstad S.
      • et al.
      Prenatal exposure to household pets influences fetal immunoglobulin E production.
      Higher concentrations of cord blood IgE were associated with mothers unexposed to pets,
      • Aichbhaumik N.
      • Zoratti E.M.
      • Strickler R.
      • Wegienka G.
      • Ownby D.R.
      • Havstad S.
      • et al.
      Prenatal exposure to household pets influences fetal immunoglobulin E production.
      a notable finding given that previous studies have demonstrated a link between increased cord blood IgE levels and the risk for subsequent development of allergic disorders.
      • Bergmann R.L.
      • Edenharter G.
      • Bergmann K.E.
      • Guggenmoos-Holzmann I.
      • Forster J.
      • Bauer C.P.
      • et al.
      Predictability of early atopy by cord blood-IgE and parental history.
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