STUDY: Exposure to Pets Lowers Risk for Childhood Asthma

Having a dog at home may lower your young child’s risk for childhood asthma, a new study suggests.

Researchers at the Uppsala University in Sweden looked into one million children born between 2001 and 2010 in Sweden. In this country, farm animal and dog ownership has to be registered by law.

child with dog

Scientists had the access to the organized system of Sweden’s national databases which enabled them to account for other factors such as area of residence, socio-economic status as well as asthma in parents.

“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 also for children growing up with dogs in their homes,” said Dr. Tove Fall, the lead scientist of the study.

Their findings showed that exposure to dogs during the first year of life caused a 15% lower probability of childhood asthma. Living near farm animals decreased the risk by 52%.

“Our results confirmed the farming effect, and we also saw that children who grew up with dogs had about 15 per cent less asthma than children without dogs,” Dr. Fall said.

According to the hygiene hypothesis, the lack of early exposure to parasites and microbes or living in a too-clean environment may stop the immune system from developing properly and increase a child’s susceptibility to allergy conditions like asthma. The results of the study reinforce the hypothesis.

Best Home Environment for Kids with Asthma

By minimizing or eliminating exposure to asthma triggers, you can provide an asthma-safe home for your kids.

Here are some tips from kids

  • Improving indoor air quality by avoiding irritants such as smoke, aerosol sprays, perfume, cleaning products, fumes from cooking gas, candles and paint.
  • Reducing dust mites
  • Minimizing mold
  • Keeping pets and animals outside home
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