Great news for cat-loving parents! A Danish study of nearly 400 toddlers showed that those who were growing up with a cat in the house were significantly less likely to suffer from asthma than children who did not live with a cat – including those who live with dogs.
Researchers think this is due to a genetic variation in the TT gene that gets switched off in the presence of cats. This variation of the TT gene (when not switched off) doubles the risk of asthma and is also responsible for pneumonia and bronchitis. Experts believe around one third of people carry this variant of the TT gene.
Scientists are hoping to discover what it is about the presence of cats that helps switch off this gene variant, whether it’s bacteria that cats carry or fungi or viruses that they bring with them into the house. Once they discover the connection, they are hoping to find ways of preventing asthma from developing even in those who don’t live with cats.
Jakob Stokholm led the study at the Copenhagen Studies on Asthma in Childhood Research Center. He said:
“If we can explain these mechanisms, it opens up opportunities to isolate them and to protect against the disease.”
Dr Arne Høst helped lead the study. He added:
“It’s not only about genes and the environment, but how the two interact, and there’s so much that we still don’t know.”
Until further research leads to other preventative measures, at least cat owners know they are helping to protect their kids against the likelihood of developing asthma.
(H/T: The Telegraph)