Household pet exposure, allergic sensitization, and rhinitis in the U.S. population

Josef Shargorodsky, Esther Garcia-Esquinas, Rachel Umanskiy, Ana Navas-Acien, Sandra Y. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: The effect of animal dander exposure on allergic sensitization may be age-dependent. A comparison between the association of the levels of exposure to pet allergen with rhinitis symptoms and allergic sensitization in children and adults is yet to be performed in the U.S. population. Methods: Cross-sectional study of 3034 adults (age, 20 to 85 years) and 2104 children (age, 6 to 19 years) in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005–2006. Samples of household dust were collected to measure the amounts of indoor allergens in the participants’ homes. Self-reported rhinitis was based on symptoms during the past 12 months, and allergen sensitization was defined as a positive response to any of the 19 specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antigens tested. Results: Higher levels of exposure to dog dander were associated with a higher prevalence of any allergic sensitization in adults (prevalence ratio [PR] 1.19; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01 to 1.39), but a lower prevalence in children (PR 0.84; 95% CI, 0.73 to 0.096), p-interaction by age group 0.02. Cat exposure was associated with an increased prevalence of rhinitis symptoms in adults (PR for the 3rd vs lowest tertile of cat dander concentrations: 1.14; 95% CI, 1.05 to 1.23) but not in children (PR for the 3rd vs lowest tertile of cat dander IgE concentrations: 0.86; 95% CI, 0.70 to 1.07), p-interaction 0.01. Conclusion: Allergic sensitization and symptomatic response to pet dander exposure may vary based on age. Further studies are necessary to assess the mechanisms for these apparent differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-651
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Forum of Allergy and Rhinology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • allergic sensitization
  • allergy
  • household dust
  • pets
  • rhinitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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