Day Care, Pets, Diet & Childhood Asthma

Several recent studies have found that children enrolled in day care as infants are less apt to develop asthma, probably because they are exposed to germs that help boost their immunity to allergic diseases. The same may be true when pets are in the home.

While cats and dogs can aggravate symptoms in kids who already have asthma, some studies suggest that young babies who live in homes with two or more dogs or cats are less likely to develop asthma by school age.

Diet, too, may play a role in asthma risk. Several studies, including one that looked at 700 children on the island of Crete, have found that kids who eat a Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and nuts, have fewer asthma symptoms.

A UK study found—but can't explain exactly why—women who ate the most apples and fish during pregnancy were less likely to have kids who developed asthma. Clifford Bassett, M.D., medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, recommends a Mediterranean-type diet and omega-3 fish oil supplements to complement standard treatment for asthma patients.

Publication Review By: Raymond Slavin, M.D.; Derek Johnson, M.D. for MDminuteâ„¢

Published: 30 Sep 2009

Last Modified: 10 Oct 2014