Having a dog or cat in the house when children are less than a year old may mean the kids face fewer health problems later in their childhoods, a new study conducted in Finland has found--with dogs offering greater potential protection than cats. CNN.com has more:
The study, published in next month's issue of Pediatrics, followed 397 children from before birth to age 1, and noted the number of times they had contact with either a dog or cat each week.
Although it's a pretty common thing to see newborns with minor respiratory issues and ear infections, researchers found those babies who had more interaction with animals seemed to have fewer of these problems and needed less medication, even when they were sick.
Even though babies living with cats were still protected, their protection was not as strong as those babies who lived around dogs. And kids living in homes in which dogs went in and out of the house more often seemed to have the lowest risk of infections.
Although doctors acknowledge more research is needed, they say there's something about animals that affect an infant's immune system which can protect against certain childhood infections.
Image: Baby with dog, via Shutterstock.