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Pets and Babies
Mar 30th, 2013 Headlines

People who think pets are bad for babies are barking up the wrong tree.  A new study that came out last week says dogs are good for infants.

This isn’t the first study to suggest that there are benefits to having pets in the homes of young children.  This most recent study, link however, illness was published in the journal “Pediatrics” and is out of Finland.   Researchers followed 400 kids from pregnancy until their first birthday. Parents kept a weekly diary and filled out a final questionnaire.  They found that children who had a dog living in their home had fewer respiratory infections, like the common cold, or ear infections, than those with no contact with dogs.  They also found that the kids of pet owners needed fewer courses of antibiotics.

The study’s results showed that there was less of a protective effect for babies whose dogs were mostly kept inside.  The theory is that dogs that go outside more often bring in more dirt and germs that can help stimulate the child’s immune system in a good way.

While it was found that babies living with cats were still better off than babies without any pets in their home, their protection was not as strong as those babies who lived around dogs.

Past research has shown that having pets in the home can reduce a child’s risk of developing allergies. With the addition of this recent study, it is suggested that having pets in the home can reduce a child’s risk of developing allergies, and that it can cut down on the number of respiratory illnesses and symptoms they have in the first year.  These researchers are going to continue to follow these kids to see how long the effect may last.

A few things, however, may need to be considered about this study.  Some people can’t have pets in their home because a parent may have an allergy to a dog or cat, and their children may develop the same allergy, too.  To get best protection, experts think exposure to pets has to be done in early childhood because once a child enters school, their immune system is already too fully developed for it have an impact.

Dogs have other benefits for kids, as well.  Younger children are less likely to be overweight or obese if they own a dog. Presumably, this is because they’re out walking the dog and playing with their pet.  Dogs have also been shown to help kids with behavior problems or autism. In addition, animals have even been able to help children handle pain better in hospitals.

Pets also have emotional benefits for people of any age. Studies have shown that people with pets suffer from less depression, have lower blood pressure, have more energy, are more physically active, and may suffer less from heart disease and strokes.

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