Monday, July 9, 2012

Is a dog your baby's new best friend?

Daniel DeNoon writes about a new study involving pets and babies for WebMD Health News. An excerpt:

"Babies in homes with dogs have fewer colds, fewer ear infections, and need fewer antibiotics in their first year of life than babies raised in pet-free homes, Finnish researchers find. Homes with cats are healthier for babies, too, but not to the same extent as those with dogs, note researchers Eija Bergroth, MD, of Finland's Kuopio University Hospital, and colleagues.

"'The strongest effect was seen with dog contacts. We do not know why it was stronger than with cat contacts,' Bergroth tells WebMD. 'It might have something to do with dirt brought inside by the dogs, especially since the strongest protective effect was seen with children living in houses where dogs spent a lot of time outside.'...

"A time-honored theory, the hygiene hypothesis, suggests that children's immune systems mature best when infants are exposed to germs in just the right amount. Too many germs are unhealthy, but so is a sterile, germ-free home.

"That theory is now giving way to the 'microbiome hypothesis,' says Karen DeMuth, assistant professor of pediatrics at Atlanta's Emory University.

"'The microbiome hypothesis is that early-life exposure to wide varieties of microbes lets them mix with the microbes in the gut and helps them keep the immune system from reacting against itself and causing autoimmune disease, or from reacting against stuff you should ignore and causing allergy,' she says."

Read the whole article in WebMD Health News.

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1 comment:

  1. My daughter did not have one single cold, ear ache, infection, or fever in her first year of life. I was researching the link between dogs and babies' friendship and benefits and stumbled upon this page. I'm sure the introduction to germs has something to do with it, but I really think just the general emotions between a dog and a baby is enough to boost a child's well being. My dog could calm her and communicate to her in ways that the human language couldn't. They are still inseparable and my daughter is now 2 1/2 years old. This was an awesome article. Thank you