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Early Exposure to Pets Can Help Prevent Allergies

Early Exposure to Pets Can Help Prevent Allergies

Pets offer many benefits to your children’s well-being, including a stronger immune system.

In case you didn’t notice this past football season—Cleveland Browns fans sure did—the Dawg Pound on Lake Erie is back! After finally getting rid of a coach who had a win-loss record of 3 and 40 over two-plus years, the Browns, led by quarterback Baker Mayfield and other fresh talent, put together their best record (7-8-1) since 2007.

Dogs have a way of being good for body and spirit. And that is confirmed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin who recently found infants and newborns who are exposed to dogs are less likely to develop certain types of allergic diseases, such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) and asthma. Yet another study from Sweden’s University of Gothenburg found that infants growing up with three or more pets had even fewer allergies at ages seven to nine than kids who had only one or no pets.

All the researchers believe that early childhood exposure to animals (the Swedes call it the “mini farm” effect) bolsters or preps a child’s quickly developing immune system, sort of like an inoculation. Seems if you bring a newborn into your home and you have a dog and/or a cat and your child doesn’t have an allergic reaction—well, that doubles the likelihood that the child will dodge allergies later in life.

So, we say go Dawgs. And to the moms and dads with young kids—we know you have a lot on your hands. But walking that pup will help you get in your 10,000 steps a day! Be sure to keep track of your steps with the Sharecare app for iOS and Android.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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