A recent study by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital to determine if second-hand smoke and living with a pet had a role in controlling severe asthma in children, found interesting results.
In the past if a child had asthma and the family had a pet, the family was often encouraged to get rid of the pet. This is a heartbreaking situation. If the child is old enough to realize that it is because of them that the pet was re-homed, it could cause the child to feel as though they are the blame. This feeling of guilt on top of the grief of losing the pet can be very difficult for a child to deal with.
However, the most recent study has shown that if the child’s asthma is managed per NAEPP (EPR-3) guidelines that second-hand smoke and pets do not cause the asthma to get worse or prevent it from improving.
This is very good news for families where a child, or even a family member, suffers from asthma. It also means that a child who has asthma does not have to be denied the joy of owning a pet.
In a unique Swedish study, researchers found that people who owned dogs had a lower mortality rate then those who did not. They also found that people who lived alone and owned a dog had less cardiovascular diseases then people who lived alone who did not own a dog.
The researchers studied 3.4 million people between the ages of 40 and 80 making this a comprehensive comparison. What the study did not show was why there was a difference between dog ownership and non-dog ownership.
One possibility considered was that people who own dogs are more active because they walk their dogs. There was also no indication as to whether or not there were other factors such as the type of people who own dogs vs those who do not.
However, the bottom line is that dog ownership, again, has proven to benefit the health of their owners. It would be interesting to study how growing up with a dog or pet affects the health of children as adults if they continue to own a pet vs those who get a dog or pet later in life. We know that children who own pets are less prone to developing allergies. It would be interesting to know what other physical and mental benefits pet ownership has on children.
Previous studies have shown that children who grow up around animals, including livestock, have a reduced rate of allergies. Now another study suggests that having a pet in the home, especially dogs help infants invitro as well as after they are born, have less instances of allergies and obesity.
Anita Kozyrskyj, a U of A pediatric epidemiologist who is one of the world’s leading researchers on gut microbes (bacteria that live in the digestive tracts of humans and animals) and her team have studied the relationship between less instances of allergies (especially asthma) in children who live with pets, for over two decades.
Her Team has shown that a mother’s exposure to pets while pregnant, and the child up to three months after the birth, increases two bacteria, Ruminococcus and Oscillospira which are responsible for the reduction of allergies and obesity. These bacteria were almost doubled in the child’s body when pets, mostly dogs, were present before and after birth.
Kozyrskyj’s study also showed that having pets in the house during pregnancy reduced the transmission of vaginal GBS a group B strep during birth. GBS can cause pneumonia in newborns.
How wonderful are our pets!