You finally have a reason to indulge your kids’ constant request for a puppy! Though you know you’ll ultimately be the one shouldering all that responsibility, a study released says that young children who are exposed to furry pets may develop better immune systems.
The study published by the U.S. Pediatrics journal says that exposing a child in the first year of his or her life to a dog (that spends a substantial amount of time outdoors) will result in stronger little immune systems. Kids who spend a lot of time with pets such as cats or dogs will also have less chance of contracting ear infections and developing respiratory problems.
The health benefits of having a furry friend probably have something to do with the fact that exposure to some germs and dirt is not that horrible for your child, and might prevent them from getting sick later in life. The study conducted in Finland showed that babies in homes with cats or dogs were 30% less likely to have infectious respiratory symptoms. Additionally, kids who logged in many an hour with their favorite dog were less likely to use antibiotics compared with those kids who lived in pet-free homes:
“We speculate that animal contacts could help to mature the immunologic system, leading to more composed immunologic response and shorter duration of infections,” [said an expert from the Kuopio Hospital in Finland].
The findings proved to be consistent and “significant,” even when researchers controlled for other variables that could jack up infection risks, such as being formula-fed, heading off to daycare, having asthma, living with older siblings, or having smoker parents.
Dogs appeared to be more beneficial than cats in terms of keeping children healthy. But the study only showed results for post-natal babies — not older children — implying that those kids not raised with animals from a very young age may not completely benefit from Fido. But maybe committing to getting an animal before you have kids is a step in the right direction.