IF YOU HAVE a baby, and a dog, it might be a good idea to let them be pals.
New research from Finland has found that dogs may have a protective effect on respiratory tract infections during the first year of life.
The study, published in Pediatrics, followed 397 children from birth onwards and examined the frequency of respiratory symptoms and infections combined with contact with cats and dogs. Each child’s first year was documented using weekly diaries and questionnaires.
Sixty-two per cent of the babies had contact with dogs in their homes, while 34 per cent had contact with cats.
While not all of the children had constant contact with animals (presumably some of the dogs and cats ran away, or met an untimely end) for the length of the study, it was found that babies who had early contact with their canine or feline pals were 30 per cent less likely have coughs, colds, ear infections and congestion.
Babies who had early contact with dogs specifically were 44 per cent less likely to develop ear infections.
Other factors that have previously been found to have an impact on the development of respiratory infections are attendance at day care, older siblings, and breastfeeding.