Researchers from the esteemed Uppsala University have discovered a link between pet ownership and chances of developing asthma and other airway diseases. The paper states that dogs decrease asthma incidence in children, if they are exposed to them in his early years of life.
Traditionally, there were two theories discussed among medical experts. According to one of them, it would be unwise for parents to expose either newborns or young children to pets because, changes are, that they will develop respiratory issues. By exposing them to household animals such as dogs or cats, bacteria that resides in the environment could actually weaken their immune system.
Radically opposed to the more traditional and conservative view regarding house pets, come this study, all the way from the shores of Sweden. According to their assessment of the situation, doctors have discovered that by exposing children to an environment where pets are present you could actually lower the risk of getting asthma or other respiratory issues by 15 percent.
In order to come up with this number, researchers took into account more than one million cases of children suffering from all over Sweden. Additional parameters were taken into account such as age, if they own a pet or not, if they ever lived on a farm in close proximity to animals. Also, among these children, there were several of them suffering from asthma. Doctors wanted to ascertain if owning a pet has any effect in both treatment and everyday life.
However, there is also a downside to this study. Scientists have discovered that although children between 3 and 6 years old have shown improvement when exposed to an animal environment, those who are under 3 years old are still vulnerable. Numbers have proven that early exposure to pets can significantly increase the risk of asthma. The number seem to increase even more dramatic, when the study takes to the farm-like environments.
It seems that small children, under 3, who are exposed to livestock, have a 50 percent risk of developing asthmatic complications in their later years of life.
So, what is the general conclusion of the study? Does it refute the traditional view, according to which, children should not be exposed to animals? Maybe partially. Results have proven that early animal encounters can spike up the risk of getting asthma. On the other hand, if the timing is right, you can do your child a lot of good by exposing him to a house pet.