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Don’t give up the dog just because you’re having a baby, says research

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Posted on November 18, 2015: Researchers at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden have studied data of over one million children born in Sweden between 2001 and 2010 and found that kids who grew up with dogs are 15% less at risk of asthma than children who grew up in no-dog households.

“Earlier studies have shown that growing up on a farm reduces a child’s risk of asthma by about half. We wanted to see if this relationship also was true also for children growing up with dogs in their homes. Our results confirmed the farming effect, and we also saw that children who grew up with dogs had about 15 percent less asthma than children without dogs. Because we had access to such a large and detailed data set, we could account for confounding factors such as asthma in parents, area of residence and socioeconomic status,” Tove Fall, Assistant Professor in Epidemiology at the University’s Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, said in the release. She’s the lead author and worked with researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden to study extensive amounts of government data of over one million children.

Extensive data research

In Sweden, dog registration is mandatory because of legislation passed in 2001. Each person is assigned a personal identity number against which records each visit to the doctor and each prescription in a national database. The researchers went through records of more than one million children held across nine national databases and two dog registries that have not been studied before. The scientists were trying to find if children of registered dog parents or farm workers showed any patterns of later diagnoses of infant asthma.

The authors of the study do admit that the science of why children who grow up with animals are at a lower risk still needs to be worked out. Considering the population data-driven nature of the study, these findings can only be generalised across Sweden and some other European countries. For a more detailed understanding of whether pets and babies can be parented together, here’s Team Gingertail on the subject.

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