Dogs are man’s best friend. Doubtful of letting them into your household? This might change your mind. Recent research has found that children who grow up with dogs are 15% less likely to develop asthma compared to kids who didn’t.
“Earlier studies have shown that growing up on a farm reduces a child’s risk of asthma by about half. We wanted to see if this relationship also was true also for children growing up with dogs in their homes,” says co-author Tove Fall, assistant professor of epidemiology.
The study, from the Uppsala University in Sweden, involved analyzing data taken from national data soruces of more than one million Swedish children born between 2001 and 2010. They collected information on the children’s asthma diagnosis and their family’s dog and farm animal ownership. Taken into account were other factors like parental asthma and socioeconomic status.
Results showed that babies who lived with dogs during their first year of life were 13% less likely to get asthma by the time they were school aged. Children who grew up with farm animals lowered their risks even more; 15% for school age children and 31% for preschoolers.
“We know that children with established allergy to cats or dogs should avoid them, but our results also indicate that children who grow up with dogs have reduced risks of asthma later in life,” says senior author of the study Catarina Almqvist Malmros, pediatrician at the Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital and professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.
“Asthma is one of the most common chronic conditions in childhood,” says pediatrician Rossane Sugay. Asthma is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation in the air passages of the lungs causing breathing difficulties for the patient. According to Sugay, it is important for parents to know the irritants that trigger their child’s asthma. Cigarette smoke, dust, exercise, colds, molds and strong perfumes are common she says.