A pet boosts a child's health, doctors say
Fewer respiratory tract infections found in homes with cats and dogs
Remember the old wives tale about a cat sucking a baby's breath?
According to a new medical study, the exact opposite is true. According
to a new study from Finland, children who grow up with cats or dogs tend
to get fewer respiratory infections during their first year of life.
Remember the old wives tale about a cat sucking a baby's breath? According to a new medical study, the exact opposite is true. According to a new study from Finland, children who grow up with cats or dogs tend to get fewer respiratory infections during their first year of life.
Cats were also seen as beneficial - but not as beneficial as households with dogs, the survey found. Infants living with cats were two percent less likely to need antibiotics.
"We speculated that maybe the dogs somehow can bring dirt or soil inside the house, and then the immune system is strengthened, or maybe it's something about the animals themselves," study researcher Dr. Eija Bergroth, a pediatrician at the Kuopio University Hospital in Finland says.
The study took into account factors known to affect infants' infection rates, such as breast-feeding and number of siblings. Researchers acknowledged that they couldn't account for all factors, noting that they found a correlation, not a cause-and-effect relationship.
Thirty-five percent of the children in the study lived in homes with dogs, and 24 percent lived in homes with cats, though the researchers also accounted for pet contact outside the home.
"According to our results, there's no reason to be afraid of animal contact, or to avoid them," Bergroth said.
While parents try to create an extremely hygienic environment, Bergroth said, the results show this may not be the best choice, because the immune system is not challenged.
Dr. Roya Samuels, a pediatrician at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., declared the study as "incredibly novel."
The research builds on the "hygiene hypothesis," a widely accepted theory that posits that children exposed to too-clean environments are more likely to develop allergies and asthma. The study bolsters the benefits of living in an environment that is more challenging to the immune system.
"We associate exposure to dog and cat dander with lower allergy and asthma rates. But this paper is saying that, for reasons unknown, there is a protective mechanism at work lowering rates of infectious diseases," Samuels said.
Bergroth said she hopes the research will stop people from thinking that if "they're having children, they should get rid of animals."
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: Dogs, cats, respiratory infections, infants, dander, medical study
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