Childhood Asthma Risk May Increase With Prenatal Animal Exposure

pregnant lady
pregnant lady
Children exposed to cats, dogs, goats, cockroaches, and rats while in utero were more likely to develop asthma.

Children with asthma were more likely to have been exposed to cats, dogs, goats, cockroaches, and rats in utero than children without asthma, according to study results published in the Journal of Asthma.

Prenatal risk factors for asthma were evaluated by reviewing medical records of children both with and without asthma and comparing documented pregnancy complications, exposures to animals or livestock, prenatal care, mode of delivery, and birth weight.

Of the 200 children with and 200 children without asthma, the following pregnancy-related complications were found to be associated with a higher risk for a child having asthma: blurred vision, vaginal bleeding or spotting, nocturnal cough, shortness of breath, wheezing and whistling in the chest, and high blood pressure. In addition, a family history of asthma or hay fever was almost 6-fold elevated in children with asthma (adjusted odds ratio, 5.86; 95% CI, 3.03-11.34). Furthermore, environmental exposures to cats, dogs, goats, cockroaches, and rats also increased childhood asthma risk. These environmental exposures are of particular importance because they are preventable. However, cow/cattle exposures were linked to lower child asthma risks.

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The researchers wrote, “This study finds that certain prenatal complications that are mostly preventable increase the odds of childhood asthma.” More studies are needed to elucidate the differences between cattle and other animal risks.


Arif AA, Veri SD. The association of prenatal risk factors with childhood asthma [published online October 1, 2018]. J Asthma. doi:10.1080/02770903.2018.1515224