Want A Healthy Baby? Get A Dog, Study Says

Are you looking to have a healthier kid? A new study shows that the best preventive step you can take is to get a dog.

Newser reports that the study, which focused on respiratory tract infections, such as colds and ensuing ear infections, found that babies who lived with dogs were healthy almost 3/4 of the time in their first year, but kids who lived without dogs were healthy only 65 percent of the time.

The study was posted online on Monday in the U.S. journal Pediatrics, and was based on 397 Finnish children, examining whether contact with dogs and cats during a child’s first year can offer protection from respiratory tract infections. Eija Bergroth, the study’s lead author and a pediatrician affiliated with Kuopio University Hospital in Kuopio, Finland, stated according to The Wall Street Journal that:

“The children having dogs at home were healthier, they had less ear infections and they needed less antibiotics.”

Yahoo News notes that the study stated that babies who spent less than six hours but more than zero per day at home with a dog were the least likely to be sick. They wrote:

“A possible explanation for this interesting finding might be that the amount of dirt brought inside the home by dogs could be higher in these families because (the dog) spent more time outdoors.”

They went on to say that:

“We offer preliminary evidence that dog ownership may be protective against respiratory tract infections during the first year of life. We speculate that animal contacts could help to mature the immunologic system, leading to more composed immunologic response and shorter duration of infections.”

Dr. T. Bernard Kinane, the chief of the pediatric pulmonary unit at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston has said about the study that, “In many ways, (the study is) saying, if you’re exposed to a natural environment… your immune system recognizes that you don’t fight the normal allergens.”

Knowing that owning a dog can increase the chances of your baby’s health, at least in its first years of life, would you consider getting one, if you don’t have one already?