What pets, environmental factors contribute to asthma in school-aged children?

In children, keeping animals has been shown to increase the risk of respiratory symptoms, particularly asthma and symptoms associated with asthma. A cross-sectional study was conducted to examine the link between pets and respiratory health among schoolchildren in Zhongshan, a city in southern China. The results of the analysis were published in the Asthma Journal.

The researchers sought to determine whether exposure of pets was linked to the development of asthma and asthma-related symptoms, and to assess the combined effect of keeping animals and household environmental factors. Questionnaires were used to select qualified children for analysis. An internationally standardized questionnaire from the American Thoracic Society has been adopted and revised based on actual situations observed in China.

A total of 11,611 Chinese schoolchildren were randomly recruited to participate in the present study, of which 6,087 were boys and 5,524 were girls. Between March and July 2016, investigators obtained information on respiratory symptoms, disease history, pet status, and other associated risk factors from the children recruited. Demographic information was collected from the children, including gender, age, parental education and family income.

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The results of the study showed that keeping a cat in a child’s home significantly increases their risk of a persistent cough (odds ratio [OR], 1.77; 95% CI, 1.03-3.05; P = .04). Raising poultry at home increased the risk of asthma and allergic rhinitis (OR, 3.87; 95% CI, 1.08-13.92; P = 0.04 and OR, 1.84; 95% CI, 1.01-3.37; P = .05, respectively). Additionally, sleeping with a pet increases a child’s risk of developing persistent phlegm, physician-diagnosed asthma, and current asthma (OR, 5.04; 95% CI, 1.05-24.28 ; P = 0.04 vs OR, 3.35; 95% CI, 1.31-8.57; P = 0.01 vs OR, 4.94; 95% CI, 1.05-23.31; P = .04, respectively).

The results of the present study also showed that children exposed to both cat breeding and mold had higher self-reported asthma rates than those exposed to cat breeding or mold only. .

The researchers concluded that further studies on the interactions between asthma risk factors and symptoms associated with asthma are warranted, to help elucidate the development of asthma in children.

Disclosure: None of the study authors have declared affiliation with any biotechnology, pharmaceutical and / or device companies.


Zhjang HL, Wang BY, Luo Y et al. Association between keeping pets at home and self-reported asthma and asthma-related symptoms in 11,611 schoolchildren in China. J Asthma. 2021; 58 (12): 1555-1564. doi: 10.1080 / 02770903.2020.1818772