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Children, Dogs and Asthma

Contact with dogs at an early age may decrease a child's chance to get asthma.


This past Saturday was National Family Health and Fitness Day. It's an appropriate time then to mention a published study from late last year that found a link behind exposure to dogs as children and asthma. Many dogs, unfortunately, are given up due to allergies and asthma among the family children and this is good news for dogs and children everywhere.

The study took place in Sweden and involved over one million children. The researchers wanted to find whether early exposure to dogs would affect a child's probability of developing asthma. The idea was based on previous work that found that there was less incidence of asthma in children that lived on farms, and thereby around animals. The significance of the study is important as well because in Sweden every dog is required to be registered and this allowed the researchers to get complete data on the representative population.

The scientists found that there was a 15% lower risk of asthma among children who lived with and had grown up in the presence of dogs. While more study is likely to occur, this is a good incentive for parents to expose children more to dogs (safely, of course!) to reduce the possibility of developing asthma as they grow up.

Sources: Early contact with dogs linked to lower risk of asthma, Science Daily, November 2, 2015. and Tove Fall, Cecilia Lundholm, Anne K Örtqvist, Katja Fall, Fang Fang, Åke Hedhammar, Olle Kämpe, Erik Ingelsson, Catarina Almqvist. Early Exposure to Dogs and Farm Animals and the Risk of Childhood Asthma. JAMA Pediatrics, 2015; 169 (11)

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