For a healthy baby, get a dog, or two
This may be a hard pill to swallow for all those worrywarts warning us about zoonotic diseases, but having a dog living inside the home apparently makes for a healthier infant.
A new study reported in the medical journal Pediatrics says infants living in households with dogs were healthier and had fewer ear infections than those without a dog.
The study, based on 397 children who lived in rural and suburban parts of Finland, found that contact with dogs and, to a lesser extent, cats, helped ward off respiratory tract infections during a baby’s first year.
Seems all that dirt and bacteria dogs bring inside might actually help build up the immune systems of babies.
“The children having dogs at home were healthier, they had less ear infections and they needed less antibiotics,” said Eija Bergroth, the study’s lead author and a pediatrician affiliated with Kuopio University Hospital in Kuopio, Finland.
Under one measure, children with dogs were reported as being healthy for about 73% of the time, compared with about 65% of children with no dog contact at home, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Bergroth said that children who lived in households where dogs spent 18 or more hours a day outside showed the most healthy days, fewer fevers and the least use of antibiotics compared with babies with no dog at home.
One theory, she said, is that indoor-outdoor dogs bring more dirt and bacteria inside the home, allowing infants to build up immunities.
Bergroth’s study involved children who were born at Kuopio University Hospital in Finland between September 2002 and May 2005. The children’s parents were given weekly questionnaires from the time their babies were nine weeks old until they were 1 year old.
It’s not the first study to document the physical health benefits of shacking up with dogs. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health showed children exposed to two or more dogs or cats in their first year had lower chances of developing allergies of all kinds than children exposed to one or no pets.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: allergies, antibiotics, bacteria, benefits, dogs, ear infections, Eija Bergroth, exposure, fevers, finland, health, health benefits, households, immune system, infants, infections, Kuopio University Hospital, pediatrics, pets, respiratory, study, zoonoses, zoonotic