A new study finds babies who have a pet during their first year of life have fewer health problems than infants who don’t have pets.
Researchers from Kuopio Hospital in Finland say the 397 children studied, who had more interaction with animals, seemed to have fewer respiratory issues or ear infections. They also noted that the children needed less medication, even when they were sick.
Doctors say animals somehow affect an infant’s immune system which can protect against certain childhood infections, but they also claim more research is needed.
Looking at families who had dogs, Dr. Eija Bergroth of the Kuopio University Hospital said, “We speculated that the more the dog is outside, the more dirt (and microbes) it might bring inside.”
She added, “The microbes in the dirt might somehow stimulate the child’s immune system and the immunologic responses to respiratory viruses and bacteria later could then be more composed. Or it might be something to do with the dog itself as an animal, like dander, but this also unsure.”
According to the authors, the children in the study are being followed as a part of a larger study mainly concentrating on allergies.