Study: Dogs Decrease Kids' Risk of Asthma

New research confirms that having a family dog could have several health benefits, including decreasing your child's risk of developing asthma.
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Dogs can do more than teach responsibility and provide companionship for your kid—a new study says they can help boost her immune system too!

Previous studies have shown that kids who are brought up with pets have a decreased chance for certain allergies and asthma, and a newly released study offers further proof.

The research, which appears in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, sought to confirm whether exposure to dogs or farm animals lessens a child's asthma risk.

The study's results determined that exposure to dogs and farm animals during the first year of life does, in fact, decrease the risk of developing asthma at the age of 6.

In order to draw conclusions, researchers from Sweden examined national registries including more than one million children. Dogs and farm animal registry information, asthma diagnosis, and medication were also analyzed.

Kids who grew up with family dogs had a 15 percent lower risk of developing asthma, compared to kids who did not grow up with a dog.

"We know that children with established allergy to cats or dogs should avoid them, but our results also indicate that children who grow up with dogs have reduced risks of asthma later in life," said senior author Catarina Almqvist Malmros in the study's press release. "Thanks to the population-based design, our results are generalizable to the Swedish population, and probably also to other European populations with similar culture regarding pet ownership and farming."

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn.

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