Asthma can get between young children and play at an early age, but researchers have found a preventative treatment that could cut down on a baby’s chances of developing allergies and asthma.
Get a pet. Get several, in fact.
In two scientific studies that looked at the occurrence of allergies in children with zero, one, or multiple pets, there was a direct relationship between the number of pets a child was raised with and their resilience to environmental factors.
Children raised in homes with no pets were likely to develop allergies as much as 49 percent of the time. With the addition of each pet, that likelihood decreases,
“The prevalence of allergic disease in children aged 7–9 years is reduced in a dose-dependent fashion with the number of household pets living with the child during their first year of life, suggesting a “mini-farm” effect, whereby cats and dogs protect against allergy development,” wrote one team led by Bill Hesselmar at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
A pediatric specialist might not prescribe your child a pet just yet. There are contradictory opinions, Science Line reports. The Global Allergy and Asthma European Network, a research group on allergic diseases funded by the European Union, looked at the relationship between allergies and a number of different pets.
The results were less compelling.
“We focused on having a huge cohort. I mean, 22 thousand children? That’s quite a big number,” said Karin Lødrup Carlsen, lead author of the study and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Oslo. “What we ended up with was that there was hardly any signal whatsoever, either beneficial or harmful, related to pets.”
According to Live Science, genetics can play a strong role in the development of allergies, but in at least one study, girls with a dog at home during the first year of life were found to be at greater risk of having a sensitivity to dogs as they grew older.
But, those findings, too, come with caveats.
“Realistically, you cannot do a randomized control trial because it would not be ethical (or reasonable) to randomly allocate pet keeping,” said Ganesa Wegienka, epidemiologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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