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Individuals more likely to develop cat allergies as adults

Individuals who may be susceptible to cat allergies should keep these pets outdoors whenever possible.

Pet lovers who were not regularly exposed to cats as children, but who acquire a pet cat as adults, are nearly two times more likely to develop cat allergies, according to a new study.

The study, published this month in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, confirmed that adults should avoid cats if they did not develop an immunity to them as children. Those who grew up around cats are far less likely to develop allergies when compared with those who were not regularly exposed to cats in their youth.

Researchers surveyed more than 6,000 European adults who did not have cat allergies at the start of the study. Nine years later, researchers again tested these individuals, and found cat sensitivities in 3 percent of people who didn't have a cat in either survey, compared with 5 percent of those who acquired a cat at some point during the testing period. For this reason, allergists and the researchers alike suggest individuals avoid engaging in regular exposure to cats during adulthood if they are concerned about developing sensitivities to the animals.

"If you are an adult with asthma and/or allergies, you should think twice about getting a cat and particularly, if you do so, letting it into your bedroom," Dr. Andy Nish, of the Allergy and Asthma Care Center in Gainsville, Georgia, told Reuters.

Doctors recommend that individuals who are sensitive to cats keep them out of the home for as much time as possible, as dander can become trapped in plush materials and irritate home dwellers. If cats need to come indoors, homeowners should use a HEPA air purifier to reduce the amount of pet dander present inside.

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