APR 08, 2017 1:05 PM PDT

Lower Your Family's Risk of Allergies and Obesity with a Pet

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Does owning a family pet decrease the risk of your baby developing allergies and becoming obese? Maybe. Building on years of research looking for connections between pets and lower risk of certain diseases, University of Alberta scientists come forward with promising results from their new study.

Pediatric epidemiologist Anita Kozyrskyj and her team of researchers analyzed fecal samples collected from infants; their study is based on a dense body of research that connects babies born into families with pets, a large majority being dogs, to a lower risk of allergic disease and obesity. The connection is this: an increase in the level of two types of healthy bacteria, Ruminococcus and Oscillospira.

Past research links Ruminococcus and Oscillospira to reduced risk of childhood allergies and obesity, respectively. The relationship between a healthy gut microbiome and a healthy immune system is also commonly studied.

The theory is that early life exposure to dirt and bacteria carried on the paws and in the fur of animals can boost immunity, but researchers are not sure where the bacteria originates. Kozyrskyj even mentions the possibility of “dog in a pill.” "It's not far-fetched that the pharmaceutical industry will try to create a supplement of these microbiomes, much like was done with probiotics," she said.

Also, Kozyrskyj says, there is a critical window of time to consider, “when gut immunity and microbes co-develop, and when disruptions to the process result in changes to gut immunity.” Exposure to pets in the womb up to three months after birth is the critical window where it makes the biggest life difference.

The immunological boost babies receive in response to pet exposure, whether because of dirt, bacteria, or something else is something scientists will continue to try and understand. For example, there is also evidence for pet exposure reducing a newborn’s risk of pneumonia from vaginal group B strep, and there might be many more positive health-preventative aspects of having a family dog.

This study was recenty published in the journal Microbiome.

Source: University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 20, 2019
Cardiology
JUL 20, 2019
Strep Throat Can Lead To Heart Complications
Rheumatic fever (RF) is a complication resulting from untreated strep throat. Caused by group A streptococcal infection, rheumatic fever was once the numbe...
SEP 06, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
SEP 06, 2019
The Three Drugs that Reverse Biological Aging
In the last 100 years, life expectancy in the US has risen from 55 years until 79 (Roser: 2019). And with the continuous development of medicine and scie...
NOV 19, 2019
Microbiology
NOV 19, 2019
Ketogenic Diet Appears to Help Protect Against the Flu
The ketogenic diet forces the body to use stored fat as fuel instead of carbohydrates; the fat gets broken down into ketone bodies....
NOV 27, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
NOV 27, 2019
Vaccine Causes More Polio Cases than Wild Virus
The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that 11 new cases of polio in five African countries including Nigeria, Congo and Angola were caused by a...
NOV 29, 2019
Immunology
NOV 29, 2019
Protecting Killer Immune Cells from Themselves
Destroying human cells compromised by viruses and cancer is the name of the game for so-called “killer” cells of the immune system. They employ...
FEB 12, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
FEB 12, 2020
Does Traditional Chinese Medicine Work Against Coronavirus?
Over 45,000 cases of Wuhan Coronavirus have been reported globally, alongside over 1,100 deaths. Although over 4,700 people are said to have recovered from...
Loading Comments...