Study: Pets Help Lower The Risk Of Childhood Asthma

We all know that Old MacDonald had a farm and on that farm he had a cow (all together now, E-I-E-I-O) but did you also know that he had elevated amounts of micro-organisms? Yes, no surprise here that all those cows, pigs, chickens, dogs and cats kick up a lot of dirt, fur, feathers and icky stuff during their day to day routine. But while an affront to the nose, studies show that all these germs and toxins actually offer up a sort of natural remedy to the growing problem of childhood asthma.

It seems the findings from a study conducted by researchers in Sweden including Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University were published in JAMA Pediatrics and confirm that exposure to farm animals can actually help stave off what is becoming a childhood epidemic.

Related: The Health Benefits Of Cats

Did you know that a whopping 9.3% of children in the U.S. (that’s 6.8 million kids) suffer from asthma; a debilitating disease that can become chronic, with coughing, wheezing and lethargy compromising the quality of life for our younger population.

While past studies have drawn a link between environmental factors (think tobacco smoke), Tove Fall, PhD, of Uppsala University took a deeper dive, looking at a possible connection between animal exposure and asthma.

Related: HABRI Proves Animals Provide Amazing Health Benefits

Studying over 1 million children born between 2001-2010 in Sweden, Fall explained “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 was true also for children growing up with dogs in their homes.”

Here’s what they found:

  • Dog exposure during the first year of life was linked with a 13% lower risk of asthma when the child was school-aged.
  • Farm animal exposure was linked with a 52% reduced risk of asthma in school-age children and a 31% reduced risk in preschool-age children.

Yes, we’re back to the dust and fluff and poop and the fact that kids living on a farm or with a dog, come into regular contact with “elevated and diverse” amounts of microorganisms and endotoxins.

Researchers confirm that exposures like this “have the potential to influence the risk of asthma as well as the burden of infectious disease.” In fact, they are concluding that in what is the first nationwide setting, they have produced evidence of a reduced risk of childhood asthma in 6-year-old children exposed to dogs and farm animals. Their hope is that this type of info might encourage families and physicians to look at early animal exposure for kidlets.

So if I read this right, we’re being told to toss the hand sanitizers, enforce the 10-second rule (when food falls on the floor), and get our kids a pooch.  Sure beats an inhaler and meds!


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