A new study coming from Sweden strengthens the idea that early life exposure to pet dogs lowers children’s asthma risk.
There are a number of misconceptions about owning a pet dog when a child is a brought into a family. From fear of the child ingesting hairs and developing health problems, allergies to being exposed to a variety of microbes, these are just a few reasons why parents choose to not invest in a pet.
However, these fears might be overblown. According to a new study, unless allergies already prevent families from welcoming a pet dog in their midst, a furry companion is in fact recommended. Previous studies have shown the multitude of therapeutical benefits to be reaped from owning a dog as a pet.
The Swedish study adds that it can be highly beneficial for children under the age of 6 as well. Early life exposure to pet dogs lowers children’s asthma risk. At the same time, exposure to farm animals has the same effect.
Published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal, the study included 376,600 Swedish children of preschool age, in addition to 276,200 students already enrolled in early school years. The results were consistent across the different age groups, indicating that being raised around animals, be they pet dogs or farm animals brings benefits early on.
The findings of the research pinpointed that being exposed to dogs during the first year of life resulted in a 13 percent decrease in the risk of developing asthma during school age.
Farm animals were found to be even more beneficial to children. Those exposed to the animals during their first year of life and who were enrolled in school at the time of the study presented a 52 percent lower risk of asthma. Preschool age children had a 31 percent lower risk of developing allergies or asthma if exposed to farm animals.
While it’s unclear why early life exposure to dogs or farm animals lowers the risk of allergies and asthma with both preschool age and school age children, the research team declared that:
“It has been shown that dog exposure is associated with altered bacterial flora in house dust and that mice exposed to such dust have alterations in their gut flora composition, as well as fewer allergic reactions”.
As such, the more exposed to microbes or germs a child is, the higher the chances that a strong immune system will evolve are.
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