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.


Improving Asthma Adherence

A new study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, shows that patients who are more confident about the benefits of their asthma controller therapies tend to report higher levels of adherence.

The Trial of Asthma Patient Education (TAPE) study examined the effect of an educational program aimed at increasing expectations of treatment benefit on medication adherence.

Patients with sub-optimally controlled asthma were randomized to either placebo or the active drug – montelukast (Singulair) in conjunction with an interactive computer-based multimedia educational presentation that was either neutral or designed to increase outcome expectancy.

The enhanced presentation was specifically designed to increase the expectation that the drug would adequately control asthma symptoms, while the neutral presentation included information on asthma care and management but without active promotion of the benefits of medication. The presentations were shown before the study drugs were dispensed, and again 2 weeks into the study.

Adherence was monitored electronically over 4 weeks and was defined as ≥80% use of prescribed doses. Medication adherence was measured electronically using devices fitted onto the medication bottles to record the date and time of each bottle opening.

Outcome expectancy, peak expiratory flow, prebronchodilator FEV1, asthma control (Juniper asthma control questionnaire), and asthma-related quality of life were assessed at baseline and at the 4-week follow-up.

Results showed that the enhanced presentation mode was associated with improved adherence to active drug. Additionally, when a patient expected a higher benefit from treatment, their breathing test scores improved and self-reported asthma control scores tended to be higher. There was also an accompanying trend for improvement in asthma-specific quality of life.

These results suggest that the manner in which medications are introduced to patients may not only affect their expectations about the potential benefits of the therapy, but may also impact their level of adherence and sense of improved health. The authors dubbed this The Madison Avenue effect.

This study further supports the results of work undertaken by SRxA’s Health Outcomes Advisors:  Dr. Allan Luskin and Dr. Don Bukstein.  Together with SRxA, Drs Luskin and Bukstein, both world authorities on Health Outcomes, have developed fully integrated Practice Management programs to improve medication adherence and patient outcomes. These programs can be customized for almost any drug or treatment modality.  Pharmaceutical companies wanting to know more about these guaranteed result programs should contact us today.