DETROIT (WWJ) – A new study shows that exposing a child to dogs and cats at an early age does not raise the risk of that child having allergies.

Ganesa Wegienka – an epidemiologist at Henry Ford Hospital, and the study’s author – have also found that children exposed to cats and dogs in their first year of life were at a decreased risk of sensitization to the animal.

“If the pet was introduced later on, we found, it did not increase the risk, so I know some parents are worried that if they bring a dog or a cat into the home … will my child become sensitized to that pet? And the data does not support that,” said Wegienka.

Wegienka says, however, if you are allergic to a dog or cat and are exposed to that pet then that increases the risk of allergic symptoms.