Pets Protect Kids From Asthma

If you want to protect your baby from the respiratory syncytial virus and potential asthma, get a puppy. This is the recommendation that comes from the results of the new study presented at the recent 2012 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Dust and respiratory virus

In collaboration between the Lynch lab at University of California San Francisco and the Lukacs lab at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, scientists found that feeding mice house dust from homes that have dogs protected them against a childhood airway infectious agent, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV causes cold-like symptoms in adults and older children, but can be deadly in young babies. Babies infected with RSV can suffer pneumonia and severe breathing problems. In rare cases, the infection can lead to death. Babies that go through severe RSV infection are at a higher risk of developing childhood asthma.

The researchers found that dust collected in homes with dogs may protect children against the respiratory virus infection, which has been linked to asthma in kids.

Dogs’ contribution

According to Dr. Kei Fujimura, one of the authors of the study, a collection of bacterial clusters found in homes with pets, called microbiome, is very different from the dust found in homes without animals. They speculate that the “dog-associated house dust may colonize the gastrointestinal tract, modulate immune responses and protect the host against the asthmagenic pathogen RSV.” In translation, dogs make good dust which make babies immune to RSV.

The scientists are hoping that their results may help to develop treatments for RSV and lower the risk from developing childhood asthma. They believe that their study is the first step towards discovering the microbes which may protect children and adults against the RSV.

The result of this latest study is not only excellent news for the parents of small babies, but might be a life saver for so many pooches that have to be given away because the family is having a baby. Many long-term pet owners give their pets for adoption in fear that the home with pets is not clean enough for babies. Now we know that there is such a thing as good dirt.


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