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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2001 Mar;163(3 Pt 1):694-8.

Worsening of asthma in children allergic to cats, after indirect exposure to cat at school.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


Exposure to cat allergen at school might exacerbate symptoms in asthmatic children with cat allergy. To study this, we identified 410 children, 6-12 yr of age, who were being treated for asthma (inhaled steroids and beta-agonists), were allergic to cats, and had no cat at home. Peak expiratory flow (PEF), asthma symptoms, medication, fever and/or sore throat, and contact with furred pets were recorded twice daily during the last week of summer holidays and the second and third weeks of school. The number of cat owners in each class was recorded. Ninety-two children with asthma reported no contact with furred pets. Among these, children who attended classes with > 18% (median value) cat owners reported significantly decreased PEF, more days with asthma symptoms, and increased use of medication after school started. Those in classes with < or = 18% cat owners reported no change. Children in classes with many cat owners ran a 9-fold increased risk of exacerbated asthma after school start compared with children in classes with few cat owners, after adjusting for age, sex, and fever and/or sore throat. Thus, asthma symptoms, PEF, and the use of asthma medication in children with cat allergy may be affected by indirect cat exposure at school.

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