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Associations of early-life pet ownership with asthma and allergic sensitization: A meta-analysis of more than 77,000 children from the EU Child Cohort Network

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Demetris AvraamORCiD, Emeritus Professor Paul BurtonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 The Authors. Background: Studies examining associations of early-life cat and dog ownership with childhood asthma have reported inconsistent results. Several factors could explain these inconsistencies, including type of pet, timing, and degree of exposure. Objective: Our aim was to study associations of early-life cat and dog ownership with asthma in school-aged children, including the role of type (cat vs dog), timing (never, prenatal, or early childhood), and degree of ownership (number of pets owned), and the role of allergic sensitization. Methods: We used harmonized data from 77,434 mother-child dyads from 9 birth cohorts in the European Union Child Cohort Network when the child was 5 to 11 years old. Associations were examined through the DataSHIELD platform by using adjusted logistic regression models, which were fitted separately for each cohort and combined by using random effects meta-analysis. Results: The prevalence of early-life cat and dog ownership ranged from 12% to 45% and 7% to 47%, respectively, and the prevalence of asthma ranged from 2% to 20%. There was no overall association between either cat or dog ownership and asthma (odds ratio [OR] = 0.97 [95% CI = 0.87-1.09] and 0.92 [95% CI = 0.85-1.01], respectively). Timing and degree of ownership did not strongly influence associations. Cat and dog ownership were also not associated with cat- and dog-specific allergic sensitization (OR = 0.92 [95% CI = 0.75-1.13] and 0.93 [95% CI = 0.57-1.54], respectively). However, cat- and dog-specific allergic sensitization was strongly associated with school-age asthma (OR = 6.69 [95% CI = 4.91-9.10] and 5.98 [95% CI = 3.14-11.36], respectively). There was also some indication of an interaction between ownership and sensitization, suggesting that ownership may exacerbate the risks associated with pet-specific sensitization but offer some protection against asthma in the absence of sensitization. Conclusion: Our findings do not support early-life cat and dog ownership in themselves increasing the risk of school-age asthma, but they do suggest that ownership may potentially exacerbate the risks associated with cat- and dog-specific allergic sensitization.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pinot de Moira A, Strandberg-Larsen K, Bishop T, Pedersen M, Avraam D, Cadman T, Calas L, Casas M, de Lauzon Guillain B, Elhakeem A, Esplugues A, Estarlich M, Foong RE, Haakma S, Harris JR, Huang R-C, Inskip H, Lertxundi A, Mensink-Bout SM, Nader JLT, Pizzi C, Popovic M, Salika T, Sunyer J, Van Meel ER, Swertz MA, Jaddoe VWV, Burton P, Duijts L, Nybo Andersen A-M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

Year: 2022

Volume: 150

Issue: 1

Pages: 82-92

Print publication date: 01/07/2022

Online publication date: 10/02/2022

Acceptance date: 21/01/2022

Date deposited: 04/04/2022

ISSN (print): 0091-6749

ISSN (electronic): 1097-6825

Publisher: Elsevier Inc.


DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2022.01.023

PubMed id: 35150722


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Funder referenceFunder name
824989European Commission (Research Directorate General, Research Infrastructures)