A 15-Year-Old Girl With Asthma Cannot Visit Her Friends Because They Have Cats. What Should The Parents Do?

Steven Schlozman, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital

Question: A 15-year- old girl with asthma cannot visit her friends because they have cats. What should the parents do?

Answer: Great question; increasing question because the rate of disorders like asthma is going up and up and up, and just allergies that lead to wheezing in the presence of allergens.

The first thing to do would be to talk to the friend's parents and find out whether they always have to meet at the house, maybe they could meet at an allergenic-neutral place -- at a café, a movie theater, something like that.

You'd also want to check with the pediatrician to see how restrictive it has to be. Is there a way that the cat could be put in the basement when the child is over there? Is there a way that the child could pre-treat with inhalers or with Claritin, whatever medication the allergist or the pediatrician is using so the child can be with the friend? Remember that social interaction is exactly what we want a child to be working on right now, and we want to do our very, very best to preserve that. And allergies are easily enough treated or avoided that it doesn't seem to me that that could be a good enough reason to prevent those children from being together.

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