Do dogs help kids stay healthy? A new study from Finland offers some intriguing evidence that they might. The researchers collected parent diaries on the health of nearly 400 infants born in the Kuopio University Hospital. During the first year, quite a few of the babies developed colds, coughs, fevers or ear infections. But those infants in the families that had dogs were 29 percent less likely to need treatment with an antibiotic and 44 percent less likely to come down with an inner ear infection. Previous studies have shown that children exposed to farm animals as babies are less likely to develop allergies and asthma. This study reinforces the concept that early exposure to some types of germs can help the immune system develop properly.
[Pediatrics, July, 2012]
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