Study suggests pet exposure might help protect babies from allergies, obesity

Dogs might prevent babies from developing allergies

EDMONTON — A family dog may be a baby’s best friend for avoiding allergies and becoming obese later in life, a new study suggests.

Research at the University of Alberta shows infants from families with furry pets, especially dogs, showed higher levels of two types of gut microbes associated with lower risks of obesity and allergic disease.

“The abundance of these bacteria were increased twofold when there was a pet in the house,” said Anita Kozyrskyj, a pediatric epidemiologist who is one of the world’s leading researchers on gut microbes.

The findings of her research team were published Thursday in the journal Microbiome.

The study theory suggests that babies exposed to dirt and bacteria from a pet’s fur or paws can create early immunity. The exposure can happen from pet-to-mother-to-unborn baby as well as during the first three months of the infant’s life.

“This interaction is required for a baby’s immune system to develop,” she said.

“The microbes are training the immune system to react to harmful entities like pathogenic microbes and not react to beneficial microbes and food nutrients.”

Kozyrskyj said the findings build on the work of earlier research that found that children who grow up with dogs have lower rates of asthma.

Higher levels of one of the microbes are associated with leanness and protect against obesity. 

The research involved 746 infants from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study whose mothers were enrolled during pregnancy between 2009 and 2012.

The study also suggests having pets in the house could reduce the chances of a mother passing on a strep infection during birth, which can cause pneumonia in newborns.

The research said 70 per cent of the families involved in the study had dogs. Others had cats or other furry pets.

Over half of the study’s infants were exposed to at least one furry pet.

Kozyyrskyj said perhaps someone in the future will develop a “dog in a pill” to help prevent allergies and obesity.

“It’s not far-fetched that the pharmaceutical industry will try to create a supplement of these microbiomes, much like was done with probiotics,” she said. 

John Cotter, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Study shows special needs hard to meet in B.C. public schools

It’s lunch time at the Dunn-Reker house, and four happy children bounce… Continue reading

Fernie Museum fundraiser a blast from the past

Retro themed evening raises over $10,000 for museum programming

Fernie Alpine Resort opens for preview weekend

Fernie Alpine Resort will be opening for a preview weekend, this Saturday and Sunday

Local boys raise money for sick children in unconventional way

Four local boys have found a way to use their passion for… Continue reading

Skid Steer stolen from Sparwood Transfer Station

Elk Valley RCMP are seeking the public’s assistance with a theft that… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Parastone weighs in on Slalom Drive

At a public hearing in Fernie Council on Tuesday night, Jacqueline Arling,… Continue reading

Ghostriders play hard against Nelson Leafs

Fernie Coach proud of team’s effort against top KIJHL contender

Cokato resident receives Order of Canada

Dr. Bryan Kolb has been instrumental in helping society understand what happens inside our heads

Mainroad discusses road conditions, standards

Last week, Mainroad, the Ministry of Transportation, the City of Fernie and… Continue reading

Dead rats on doorstep greets Summerland mayor

Two rodents have been delivered to Peter Waterman’s doorstep

Cougar confronts man in Clearwater

Clearwater resident Barry Joneson had a close encounter of the cougar kind

Panda picks Argonauts for the win

Giant panda at the Toronto Zoo picks Argos to win Grey Cup on Sunday

Most Read