Our four-legged friends – such as dogs or farm animals – may be reducing your children’s risk of developing asthma according to a new study!
Researchers discovered the good news after studying over 1 million children in Sweden and finding that you are 15% less likely to end up developing asthma if you had a dog in the home as a child. This study was compared to children who grew up in homes without pets.
Though we aren’t sure exactly what it is about having a dog around your kids that can help reduce asthma, the data strongly supports the theory. According to the ‘hygiene hypothesis‘:
“..early exposure of children to microbes may support the development of a healthy immune system,” According to Dr. Sherry Farzan who is an allergist and immunologist from North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y.
These Recent Findings Were Published In The JAMA Pediatrics Journal
Tove Fall, who is an assistant professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University Sweden, was the lead author on the study. She writes:
“earlier studies have shown that growing up on a farm reduces a child’s risk of asthma to about half. We wanted to see if this relationship also was true for children growing up with dogs in their homes.”
Fall also said, “Our results confirmed the farming effect and we also saw that children who grew up with dogs had about 15 percent less asthma than children without dogs.
Because we had access to such a large and detailed data set, we could account for confounding factors such as asthma in parents, area of residence and socioeconomic status.”
While having a dog in your home can help with your asthma it may not be the best for preventing other issues.
However, outcomes may be different based on the area of the country you live in, the type of dog you have, and the hygiene of the pet.
Pets And Asthma Findings Are Getting Clearer, According To Experts
“In this study, early exposure to dogs and farm animals reduced asthma risk and this may or may not include other types of pets that children keep,” said pulmonary specialist, Dr. Len Horovitz from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “The takeaway is that early exposure may reduce the incidence of a later pathological process,” he said.
The senior study author and professor of clinical epidemiology, Catarina Almqvist Malmros from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, stressed that these findings were only among children who were not already suffering from allergies or asthma. In the news release, she stated that,
“We know that children with established allergy to cats or dogs should [still] avoid them.”
Did you grow up with a dog or have pets in your home? Do you have pets around your children? Let us know what you have found in your experience in the comments below.