Although caring for pets can be beneficial for children, many animals such as tortoises carry diseases such as rabies or salmonella which can be transferred to their young owners, the study in the October edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics said.
Other more exotic creatures such as iguanas and monkeys can bite or scratch children causing infected wounds or allergies.
The study highlighted that most American homes have one or more pets, and recommended that families with children under the age of five should avoid adopting exotic animals.
The report said 11 percent of salmonella cases in children resulted from contacts with lizards, turtles and other reptiles, said lead author Larry Pickering.
"Most non-traditional pets pose a risk to the health of young children, and their acquisition and ownership should be discouraged in households with young children," the report concludes.