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Home Industry News Pet exposure in childhood ‘can help protect against allergies and obesity’

Pet exposure in childhood ‘can help protect against allergies and obesity’

7th April 2017

People who have contact with a family pet during their early years may be less likely to develop allergies and obesity in later life, according to new research.

The University of Alberta study has revealed evidence that babies from families with pets generally have higher levels of gut microbes associated with lower risks of allergic disease and obesity.

Exposure to pets in the womb or up to three months after birth was shown to increase the abundance of two types of bacteria, ruminococcus and oscillospira, which have been linked with reduced childhood allergies and obesity, respectively.

The team theorise that this is because exposure to dirt and bacteria from a dog's fur or paws, for example, can create immunity early in life that can persist for many years afterwards.

It was also shown that the presence of pets in the house reduced the likelihood of the transmission of vaginal group B streptococcus during birth, which causes pneumonia in newborns and is prevented by giving mothers antibiotics during delivery.

Anita Kozyrskyj, a paediatric epidemiologist at the University of Alberta, said: "It's not far-fetched that the pharmaceutical industry will try to create a supplement of these microbiomes, much like was done with probiotics."

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