Growing up with a dog actually may make breathing easier
A new study from the University of California, San Francisco shows that growing up with a dog as part of the family could help prevent allergies and asthma later in life.
Announced at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Francisco on June 18, the findings reveal a correlation between the presence of dogs and fewer respiratory infections in young children.
Microbes living in the stomach of young dog-owners are more diverse than in individuals who were raised without pets because they are exposed to indoor and outdoor bacteria early on in their development.
The study explains that some of these distinct microbes can protect against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), an infection that develops in infants that makes them more likely to develop respiratory issues, including asthma and allergies.
Researchers conducted the study using three different groups of mice. One group was fed dust from a house where a dog lives and another group was given dust from a house without pets. Then, both groups were exposed to RSV, while a third control group of mice ingested neither dust nor was exposed to the virus. None of the mice in the first group developed RSV and had very different microbial make-up compared to the mice in group two, who did develop the infection.
According to a Time Magazine report on the study, scientists have long suspected that pets helped build immunities to certain chronic diseases. Because of the exposure to a more varied population of bacteria from their pets, children with dogs can build up more immunities.
For many asthma and allergy sufferers, dogs can be big triggers, as this study points out that exposure to dogs during early development is when most of these benefits can be reaped. In all instances, however, it's important to keep your house clean and free of triggers using hypo-allergenic vacuums and cleaning supplies.
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