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A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine into the effect on health of children living in close proximity to animals has found that dogs can help strengthen the immune systems of children against allergies and asthma, provided they are exposed to them within the first three months of life. This is because Dogs play outdoors more frequently than other household pets and an so are constantly adding good bacteria and microbes inside homes, which the children are then exposed to.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was conducted on children on farms. It found that those who lived in close proximity of animals, especially youngsters in the Amish community, were less likely to have asthma than those who grew up on industrialised farms away from animals.

A separate study illustrated that dogs raised over twice as many classes of bacterial species in the home than the more elusive cat Though it is worth pointing out that not all animal bacteria is good. Bacteria bought in by cats, turtles and frogs are less helpful to a child’s immune system.

Simple hand washing, medical advice suggests, is sufficient to combat the potential of diseases such as salmonella occurring it the home, when substances such as animal faeces and other dirt that animals can track into homes is combined with the millions of bacteria already present in house dust,

Dogs have lived alongside us for thousands of years but it’s only now that we are looking into the health benefits of living alongside them. As such, researched are engaged in a variety of projects to identify which organisms make children healthier with the aim of producing pro-biotics designed to elicit the same affect.

Speaking on the subject Dr Jack Gilbert, Director of the Microbiome Centre at the University of Chicago said “A question lingers about whether these children exposed to animals and pets early on life can maintain that strong immune system throughout their lives. The hypothesis has not been tested as yet, but experiments are being designed to explore just that”

So, dogs aren’t just cool, fun, great protectors and substance detectors…they have health benefits as well!!!

The source material for this article was taken from an article by Mythili Sampathkumar. We were kindly given permission to use material from the article by The Independent Newspaper.