I grew up with pets. As a toddler, my two best friends were a cat named Linus and a dog named Jeb. Our family photo albums from that period are full of pictures of me reading to them on the couch, sleeping next to them on the floor and following them around the house and the yard. Legend has it that Jeb once saved me from an aggressive neighborhood dog, and that Linus thought it was fun to shred my diapers—while I was wearing them.
Kids and pets is a good thing, and not just for entertainment, exercise and affection. Recent study results published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggest that pregnant women who live with pets have kids who are less likely to develop asthma and allergies.
For the study, researchers observed 1,187 children for two years, analyzing blood samples taken when they were born and at six months, one year and 2 years of age. The children raised in households with indoor pets had lower levels of an antibody involved in the development of allergies and asthma known as immunoglobulin E.
Study authors believe the results indicate that exposure to a variety of germs early in life, including those produced by pets, boosts children’s immune systems. This lowers their risk of suffering from allergies and asthma.
If my life is any indication, I’d say the study results appear to be valid. I have never experienced asthma and my only allergies are of the mildest seasonal variety (i.e. sniffles in the spring). Perhaps I have Jeb and Linus to thank for this.
Did you have pets as a kid? Do you have any allergies now? Tell us in the comments!