Findings of a comprehensive study are suggesting that coming in contact with farm animals can reduce a child’s risk of developing asthma by as much as 50% and growing up with a dog can reduce the risk by 15%.
These findings have strongly supported the much talked about “hygiene hypothesis”, according to which, living in excessively clean conditions early in life might make one more susceptible to allergic reactions like asthma.
During the said study, scientists analyzed data pertaining to over 1 million children born in Sweden between the years 2001 and 2010. The scientists decided to carry out the study on Swedish kids as Sweden’s law requires farm animal and dog ownership to be registered.
The other factor that made Sweden the ideal site for this study is the rule that allows scientists to use all national databases. Here, it must be mentioned that in Sweden, every single visit to specialist physicians and every single prescription get recorded.
The researchers found that kids who got exposed to dogs during the first year of their lives had 15% less chances of suffering from asthma. The ones who live near farm animals, on the other hand, were found to have 52% less risk of experiencing the health problem.
The study’s lead researcher Dr. Tove Fall, who works at Sweden’s Uppsala University, informed that studies conducted previously have revealed that children who grow up on farms have 50% less risk of having asthma. She added that she and her colleagues wanted to find out whether such relationship is also observed in case of kids who have dogs in their family.
The results of the study allowed the research team to confirm the previously suggested effects of staying in contact with farm animals on kids. In addition, the researchers also found that children growing up with dogs tend to be much less likely to have asthma than the ones growing up without dogs.
Dr. Fall said that as a result of having access to such a huge and detailed database she and her colleagues succeeded in accounting for difficult factors like the socio-economic status of the studied children, medical history of their parents, and their area of residence.