Maybe you have a puppy and you want a baby. Or you have a baby and you want a puppy. Either way, you might be worried about how your dog could affect your baby’s health.
It was once thought a dog in the home would be bad for allergies. In fact, the opposite may be true, according to a new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
It’s part of an ongoing study drawn from a group of pregnant women (and now, new mothers) with a history of allergies. The researchers examined 51 babies growing up in families with furry pets (dogs, cats & rabbits), compared to 64 babies in households without such a pet.
The study found that the babies from dog & cat homes were more than twice as likely to carry a certain animal-specific bacteria in their intestines. And when the babies were tested for their reactions to various allergens, 19 babies exhibited allergies- but none of them were the babies who carried the animal bacteria.
Sharing bacteria with a pet might sound gross, but it may be beneficial. Different bacteria mean diversified protection against various illnesses. Diversity is good for your health, and it seems that growing up with a pet might be one way to encourage this diversity.
Dr. Merja Nermes of the University of Turku in Finland, co-author of the study, offered a suggestion to young or expecting parents with a hankering for a furry friend:
“If a family with a pregnant mother or an infant wants to have a pet, the family can be encouraged to have one, because the development of allergic disease cannot be prevented by avoiding pets.”