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Researchers recently looked at more than 1 million children in Sweden and they found that those who grew up with a dog in the home were nearly 15% less likely to develop asthma when compared to children who were not exposed to dogs at home. According to another similar study, children who grow up on farms also statistically had a lower rate of developing asthma.
Though the researchers aren’t sure why having a dog can reduce your chances of having asthma, it does “support the ‘hygiene hypothesis,‘ in that early exposure of children to microbes may support the development of a healthy immune system,” according to immunologist and allergist, Dr. Sherry Farzan from North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y. (she wasn’t a member of this study).
The Recent Findings Were Published In The JAMA Pediatrics Journal
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Tove Fall, who is an assistant professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University Sweden, was the lead author on the study. She wrote that “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.”
Having a dog in the home wasn’t always good on your health, also according to the study. Even though your risk of asthma goes down, you are statistically more likely to have a couple other issues.
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.”
Do you have any thoughts or experiences regarding dogs and asthma symptoms? Feel free to share with us in the comments below.
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