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Dogs can protect children against asthma, study suggests

Tuesday November 3rd 2015

Pet dogs can help to protect children against developing asthma in later life, according to a major new study.

Youngsters reduce their chances of getting the respiratory condition when they are older by 13% if there is a dog in the house.

Scientists in Sweden tracked 650,000 children. Their results support earlier theories that dogs, cats and other domestic animals boost people's immune system, as well as preventing allergies.

The study indicates that children may benefit from exposure to dog dander, which is a saliva-coated skin cell that is formed when pets groom themselves with their tongue.

Dander comes off the animals when they lose their fur and some people can become sensitised to it. The Swedish scientists do not recommend bringing a new puppy into a home with children who already have dog-related allergies.

The Allergy UK charity says that 50% of asthmatic children have cat allergies and 40% have dog allergies. JAMA Pediatrics journal has reported the findings.

Copyright Press Association 2015