Pets: Do they enhance our immunity?
- Pets can have health benefits on your child’s immune system
- Read more about exposure to pets and their bacteria on your child’s gut.
Pets and its health benefits
A pet can provide a lot of love and comfort, not just to you, but also to your child. Chances are big that your child and pet are inseparable. When your little one is cuddling their pet, it is not just cuteness overload, it also has some health benefits.
Pets and your baby’s immune system
Pets are known to reduce stress levels1, but did you know that they also help to build the immune system of your child? It all has to do with the microorganisms that pets naturally have or bring into your house. These microorganisms teach your child’s immune system what to respond to, and what not to.
A Canadian study looking at early-life exposure to household pets and its impact on the gut microbiome showed some remarkable results. Researchers compared pet exposure either during pregnancy or pre- and postnatally, to no pet exposure.
It was found that exposure to pets either prenatally, during pregnancy or postnatally increased the abundance of certain gut bacteria in infants which are negatively associated with childhood allergies2.
So, next time your little one is cuddling with your cat or wants to pet that cute puppy from the neighbours, just let it happen. Not only because it’s fun, but also because it can help develop your child’s immune system! Make sure to always check the safety first and be present when your little one interacts with pets.
1.Kertes, Darlene A., et al. “Effect of pet dogs on children’s perceived stress and cortisol stress response.” Social Development 26.2 (2017): 382-401.
2.Tun, H.M., Konya, T., Takaro, T.K. et al. Exposure to household furry pets influences the gut microbiota of infants at 3–4 months following various birth scenarios. Microbiome 5, 40 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40168-017-0254-x
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