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How To Lower Kids' Allergy Odds

The conventional wisdom used to have it that there wasn't much parents could do to keep their kids from getting allergies. But new studies show that thinking may not have been all that wise.

On The Early Show Friday, pediatric immunologist Dr. Hugh Sampson of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York says research points to

parents can make it less likely their children will develop allergies.

He pointed out to co-anchor Harry Smith that this comes as allergies are on the rise in the U.S.: "At least 20 percent of American population, over 50 million people, are now affected by allergies, and a number of the studies show that this is increasing over the past several decades."

Sampson says couples thinking of having children who also want to get a pet, should get one before a baby arrives, ideally before a baby is conceived.

"In the past," he says, "we had always said that we shouldn't have pets in the house, that this would lead to more allergies. But the more recent studies show that, if the animal is present in the household before the baby arrives, it may actually be protective.