Studies show pets can boost your baby’s immunity.
Having a pet has numerous advantages. Aside from improving your physical and emotional wellbeing, having a pet can really help you live longer (yes, really!). But the benefits don’t stop there: pets can also benefit the family’s youngest members.
According to research, owning a pet can really reduce your baby’s allergy risk.
Exposure to dogs throughout a baby’s first year (and even during pregnancy!) may boost immunity, lowering the chance of allergies developing in youngsters. Isn’t that fantastic? The “hygiene hypothesis” states that the cleaner our environment is, the more susceptible we are to asthma and allergies.
It turns out that the thought of household microbes and allergies isn’t quite so frightening. That’s a complete 180-degree turn of thought, especially for new parents, whose natural instinct is to sanitize everything that comes into contact with their new kid.
While studies shows that children who are exposed to pets (especially dogs and cats) during their first year of life have a lower chance of allergies, wheezing, and asthma, it’s important to remember that other factors can also play a role:
- Interaction with siblings
- Exposure to day care
- Biology (Children have a one in three chance of developing allergies if just one of their parents has them, and a 70 percent chance if both parents have allergies.)
For more information on the link between having a pet and your baby’s allergy risk, we chatted with Dr. Leah Alexander, a pediatrician and Mom Loves Best consultant.
Reasons why pets may reduce your baby’s allergy risk
Environmental allergies and their associated medical issues are sadly widespread in youngsters (40 percent of children reportedly suffer from allergies in the U.S.).
“Recent study has shown that early exposure to animals, especially household pets, can protect against the development of allergies later in life,” Dr. Alexander explained.
There are a few possibilities as to why this can happen, according to Dr. Alexander:
- Early exposure to pets helps to establish a healthy bacterial flora in the intestines, which decreases allergic sensitization. This is especially common in infants who haven’t been exposed to vaginal flora due to a cesarean birth.
- In a dose-dependent manner, regular exposure to pets can promote the development of “immune tolerance,” with the number of pets and amount of interaction increasing the level of protection.
- Some studies demonstrate that not just future allergies, but also asthma and atopic dermatitis, are reduced. However, the timing of pet introduction is crucial: contact should begin before the child turns one year old. Allergies and asthma become more likely after a year.
Researchers aren’t recommending that new parents adopt a dog or cat to avoid their children from developing allergies in the future. Adults with existing pet allergies should consider this, as well as the significant responsibility that comes with pet ownership.
However, if you’ve always desired a pet, now might be the moment!