Study: Infants Living With Dogs Wheeze Less

chil with dogDogs can offer babies all kinds of love and attention -- and they might help them breathe easier, too.

Living in a home with multiple dogs may help reduce an infant's risk for developing wheezing in the first year of life, according to a study in the December issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

University of Cincinnati researchers found that infants living in homes with high levels of endotoxins and multiple dogs were more than two times less likely to wheeze than other infants.

Endotoxins are natural compounds secreted from disease-causing agents such as bacteria that are commonly found in the intestines and feces. Scientists believe that endotoxins can stimulate our immune systems in many different ways.

"Our research presents evidence that pet ownership offers a protective effect against development of lower respiratory symptoms in young children," lead researcher Dr. David Bernstein said in a news release.

Bernstein said the researchers don't know why the endotoxin-multiple dog combination seems to have a protective effect on infants. He said further research is needed to determine if these early protective effects have long-term benefits.

The team analyzed the effects of pet ownership and endotoxin exposure in 520 infants enrolled in the five-year Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study who were identified as being at greater risk for developing allergies because at least one parent had known allergies.

Researchers collected dust samples from the infants' homes to measure endotoxin levels. They also determined the number of siblings and gathered information about the home, including the presence of mold and secondhand smoke. Environmental and food allergy development was monitored through annual skin prick tests.

source - SpiritIndia