November 2011 Moms

Exotic birds and infants

DH has an African Grey Parrot, he's had her for 15 years, although I cannot stand her at times, it would also break my heart if we didn't have her. A friend of DH's said that the dander these birds produce can harm an infants lung development and in some cases cause death! I plan on speaking to my doctor about this but I don't go back for a few more weeks.

 I was curious if anyone out there had an exotic bird and raised a child or knew anything about this.Thanks in advance!

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Re: Exotic birds and infants

  • My neighbors as a little kid had multiple exotic birds and reptiles and their daughter - same age as me - never had any problems at all.
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  • I've never heard of that either. I'd be more afraid of fingers in the cage and her getting jealous of the new baby. We used to have one. We didn't get along and she bit me hard a few times (hurts like h#ll). She fell in love with DH and thought of me as competition. Needless to say we found her a new home.
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  • That person is trying to scare you.  There is a type of bacteria that can be found in bird poop, it can cause some lung issues in those who inhale the "dust" when cleaning the cage.  That being said, I am sure its unlikely that your LO will be cleaning the bird cage.  I would just keep the bird cage away from the babies room. 

    My crazy SIL had an African Grey Parrot, when her kids were babies, she loved that bird.  The kids are all healthy.  The bird lived in their laundry room.  She was the only one who cleaned the cage and did so wearing gloves and a mask.  They gave the bird away when they were moving because she didn't have time to dedicate to the bird and felt it was cruel to give it less attention. 

    Double check with your OB to be sure  

  • That is incorrect information bordering on old wive's tale. Any infection like psittacosis that could harm your baby would have killed the bird by now. Wild birds and farm birds can sometimes carry things, but pet birds are not an issue. I would not bring a new pet bird into the house since you do not know its history, but a bird your DH has had for 15 years and isn't exposed to other birds is clearly healthy. If it will make you feel better, schedule the bird for a vet visit and blood workup to make sure.

    Quite frankly, I'd be more worried about the parrot being around baby powders and aerosols than the bird being a danger to the baby.



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  • good to know...thank you...DH is the only one that cleans the cage and we actually purchased a new cage for her a few months back keeping in mind that we wanted a LO, so the cage is too high off the ground for little fingers to go in. We also have air purifiers in all of the rooms in our house that sucks in a lot of the dander.
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  • I'm a vet tech in a avian specialty clinic.  There is no "lung disease" that your child will catch.  There can be allergy issues with the birds feather dust.  African Grays are very dusty birds and need that protective dust coating in the wild, but in captivity it is not necessary.  It is important for you, your child and the birds health to bathe the bird daily and clean the cage often to keep the dust to a minimum.  

    Now, if you haven't had him tested for Chlamydia (Psittacosis) then that is something that could potential be transferred to you or another person in the house. It is transferred when their droppings dry and it gets stirred up into dust when you clean the cage or the birds flaps.

    Another thing to keep in mind is making sure that the baby can't get their face or fingers in the cage with the bird.  A bird that size can bite off a finger or nose no problem (although they give a warning bite first...typically).  Also, make sure there are no nuts or seeds the child could put in their mouth that may pose as a choking hazard.  

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  • My big sister has an African Grey and her son is almost 6 months old. The parrots cage stays in the dining room which is the opposite side of the house from Mason's bedroom and during the day their parrot spends a lot of time on the sun porch (screened in). Mason hasn't had any issues with his lungs at all. The only issue they do have is how loud the bird can get when Mason is napping.
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