A recent Swedish study has found that early exposure to dogs could lower incidences of asthma found in school-age children. The study also found that growing up with farm animals could be even more beneficial in reduction.
Researchers found that asthma has been increasing world wide and, over the last 30 years, has become a global issue. The swelling of airways leads to breathing difficulties that can prevent children in engaging in stamina building activities.
While many studies have linked environmental factors to asthma, this may be the most comprehensive yet. The study focused on school-age children in Sweden and over one million children from from 2001-2010 were included in the study.
“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,” said Tove Fall, one of the researchers from Uppsala University who collaborated on the project with the Karolinska Institutet.
“Our results confirmed the farming effect, and we also saw that children who grew up with dogs had about 15 percent less asthma than children without dogs. Because we had access to such a large and detailed data set, we could account for confounding factors such as asthma in parents, area of residence and socioeconomic status”
Even though the study has illuminated the link between minimisation in children and pet ownership, researchers were unable to confirm how owning a dog contributed to reduced incidences.
“These kind of epidemiological studies look for associations in large populations but do not provide answers on whether and how animals could protect children from developing asthma,” said the study’s senior author Catarina Almqvist Malmros. “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.”