Dogs are Babies’ Best Friends: Study Finds Babies Living With Dogs are a lot Healthier

By Krisana Estaura, | March 30, 2017

The researchers concluded that babies basically cry for two hours a day in their first two weeks of their existence.  (YouTube)

The researchers concluded that babies basically cry for two hours a day in their first two weeks of their existence. (YouTube)

A study has found that babies who share their homes with a dog have a lower likelihood of developing everything from asthma to obesity.

According to Nature, researchers from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada claim that pet exposure can reduce allergic disease and obesity.

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The study was based on the hygiene hypothesis stating that exposure to a little dirt early in life can ward off allergic diseases that can appear later in life.

The team worked out the link between dog ownership and immune health. In 2013, the team led by Anita Kozyrskyj, a pediatric epidemiologist, collected 24 fecal samples from 4-month-old infants enrolled in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) cohort study between 2008 and 2009. An analysis of the sample showed that 15 of the 24 babies shared their homes with at least a dog or a cat.

The team found that the 15 babies with pets in their homes had a higher diversity of microbes in their guts, as measured in their feces.

The research explained that microbe richness in the gut is healthy as it boosts the immune system.

"That means that if infants grow up with limited exposure to microbes, such as those present in dog fur or those tracked into the house on muddy paws, the child's immune system may deem those particles worthy of attack," Nature noted.

The study was expanded to 746 infants of which half of them are living in households with a pet. The study found that microbial richness was higher in three-month-old infants with pets than in those without. Moreover, they found that babies from families with pets (70 percent of which were dogs) had higher levels of two types of Firmicutes microbes - Ruminococcus and Oscillospira. These two microbes have been associated with a lower risk of allergic disease and leanness, respectively.

In 2012, Time featured another study showing that living with pets can lower babies' risk of coughs and sniffles during the first year of life. The results also bolster the notion that keeping infants' environments overly sanitized is not good for their health.

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