Dogs and New Babies – Does This Combination Help the Baby’s Health?

Dogs and new babies

This sounds like a weird combination.  But does this combination actually improve the baby’s health?

A fairly recent study in Finland suggests that it does.  New babies living with pets, particularly with dogs, seem to have better health than those living without pets.

Some doctors believe that living with a dog actually improves the baby’s immune system.  They don’t get the common illnesses that babies get who are not living with a dog.

Babies who live with an inside and outside dogs do better than those living with only an inside dog.

I recently read an article that discusses dogs and new babies and the effect that dogs may have on the babies’ health.  It is entitled, “Dogs Make Babies Healthier, a Study Says.”  The article is found in the outstanding blog, Dogster.com, and is written by Liz Acosta.

Here is a quote from the article:

Researchers in Finland followed 397 children born between 2002 and 2005, asking parents to keep a diary of their children’s health, illnesses, and prescribed treatments. What did they find? Babies in families that included a pet — namely a dog or a cat — were 44 percent less likely to contract ear infections and 29 percent less likely to end up prescribed antibiotics than their pet-free counterparts. Babies who lived alongside dogs were 31 percent more likely to experience a healthy first year than families without a dog, while babies who shared their home with cats were 6 percent healthier in their first years than babies with no exposure to cats.

According to Dr. Eija Bergroth, the pediatrician at Kuopio University Hospital who helmed the study, “We think the exposure to pets somehow matures the immune system so when the child meets the microbes, he might be better prepared for them.”

In other words, some of that dirt and dust your dog brings in after a walk might help babies develop immunity to colds and infections. Even more interesting, researchers observed that babies living with pets who spent their time both indoors and outdoors were healthier than those who lived with indoor-only pets, further strengthening the argument that a little bit of dirtiness can still be next to godliness (or, at least, better heath!).

The entire article can be read here.

Did you know that dogs and new babies living in the same house might actually improve the babies’ health?  Dogs seem to have a positive effect on people of all ages.  Why shouldn’t they help babies as well.  I thank you for your comments.

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