Want a healthy baby? Buy a dog!

Calling all prospective parents. Want to reduce the risk that your child will be one of the 1:5 who develop allergies?  Seems you should get a dog or cat first and then opt for a natural delivery.

According to a groundbreaking study just published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers from Henry Ford Hospital found that babies who are exposed to pets during pregnancy, and those who were delivered vaginally rather than by cesarean section, have lower levels of the antibody – IgE.

The production of IgE in response to innocuous substances is the hallmark of allergic disease. As more IgE is produced, total IgE levels increase. High total IgE levels are associated with an increased risk for asthma and allergies in children.

The study showed that the levels of IgE were 28% lower in babies exposed to indoor pets in the womb than those from pet free homes and 43% percent lower in infants who had both prenatal pet exposure and were delivered naturally.

The findings support the so-called “hygiene hypothesis”, which theorizes that early childhood exposure to infectious agents affects the immune system’s development and onset of allergies and asthma.

We believe having a broad, diverse exposure to a wide array of microbacteria at home and during the birthing process influences the development of a child’s immune system”, says Christine Cole Johnson, Ph.D., MPH, chair of Henry Ford’s Department of Public Health Sciences and senior author of the study.

She theorizes that indoor pet exposure has a protective effect against early allergy development and that babies born through the birth canal are exposed to a higher and more diverse burden of bacteria, further boosting the immune system’s protection against allergies.

SRxA’s Word on Health thinks it’s kind of ironic that pets are good for you before you’re born, yet are the second leading cause of allergies afterwards!  Let us know what you think.


Survey Reveals Unmet Needs Among Patients with Allergic Rhinitis

SRxA’s Word on Health team spent the last week attending the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting in San Francisco. In addition to spending quality time with many of our KOL Allergy Advisors and pharmaceutical clients, we were able to catch up with some of the latest research on allergic rhinitis (AR).

Allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction that happens when the immune system overreacts to inhaled, such as pollen. This causes release of a type of antibody, known as IgE, into the nasal passages, along with inflammatory chemicals such as histamines. The two types of allergic rhinitis are seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and perennial allergic rhinitis, which occurs year-round. Hay fever is caused by outdoor allergens. Perennial allergic rhinitis is caused by indoor allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold.

Results from a recent pivotal AR satisfaction survey assessing patient and healthcare provider perspectives on AR reveal that symptoms like nasal congestion and post-nasal drip continue to impact patients’ daily activities.

Findings from the Nasal Allergy Survey Assessing Limitations (NASL) 2010, highlight the continued unmet need for more effective treatment options to help reduce symptoms and overall disease burden of AR.

The prevalence of AR in the U.S. has increased during the past three decades.  It is now estimated that 20% of the general adult population and almost 40% of children have the condition.  Of the estimated 60 million Americans affected with AR, approximately 20% have seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR), 40% have perennial allergic rhinitis (PAR), and 40% have a combination of the two (i.e., PAR with seasonal exacerbations) depending on the allergen sensitivity.

In other words, one in 5 adults and almost half of children suffer from symptoms including:

  • Stuffy, runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Red, itchy, and watery eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Itchy mouth, throat, ears, and face
  • Sore throat
  • Dry cough
  • Headaches, facial pain or pressure
  • Partial loss of hearing, smell, and taste
  • Fatigue
  • Dark circles under the eyes

According to NASL 2010, nasal congestion, post-nasal drip and repeated sneezing continue to be the most frequently reported nasal allergy symptoms among patients. Beyond physical symptoms, AR patients experience emotional burdens, like feeling tired and miserable. When assessing the impact nasal allergies have on productivity, the survey revealed that patients are less productive when their nasal allergies are at their worst, limiting them from doing well at work.

It’s clear from the NASL 2010 findings that the estimated 60 million people living with allergic rhinitis in the U.S. are still significantly affected, both physically and emotionally, by symptoms,” said Gary Gross, M.D. FAAAAI, Dallas Allergy & Asthma Center, Dallas, Texas. “This is a continuing trend we’re seeing in patients having allergic rhinitis as these findings are similar to those released in a past survey evaluating disease burden on patients. The NASL survey results further support the need for more effective treatment options that address these specific issues for patients living with allergic rhinitis.”

Nasal allergies can make it difficult for people to take part in both indoor and outdoor activities if their symptoms are not well controlled. According to NASL 2010, less than 20% of surveyed patients felt their nasal allergies were completely controlled over a one week time period. The vast majority of allergists, otolaryngologists and primary care providers interviewed in the survey stated intranasal corticosteroid sprays as their preferred treatment of choice for adults with moderate to severe persistent nasal allergies.

Because of its prevalence and health effects, AR is associated with considerable direct and indirect costs.  Latest estimates suggest that AR alone results in a staggering  $11.2 billion in healthcare costs, 12 million physician office visits, 2 million days of school absences and 3.5 million lost work days per year. In addition, the presence of co-morbidities such as asthma and sinusitis further increase AR-related treatment costs.

Word on Health will be bringing you more from AAAAI in the coming days, including some exciting new treatment options being developed for allergic rhinitis.