Owning a dog during pregnancy could make your baby a lot healthier
If you have a family pet – well done!
That’s because bringing up children alongside an animal has a host of benefits. And the best animal to have is… a dog.
Yes, kids who live with canines are exposed to more dirt and bacteria, which in turn results in stronger immune system, lower incidence of obesity and fewer allergies.
Not only that but researchers at the University Of Alberta in Canada also recently looked at more than 700 infants whose mothers were pregnant between 2009 and 2012.
The mothers were asked to report on whether they owned a pet during the first, second or third trimester, and three months after birth.
Infant gut microbiotas were then studied from fecal samples collected when the babies were around three months old.
The researchers compared whether the babies were exposed only during pregnancy, during pregnancy and after birth, or no pet exposure.
More than half of the studied infants were exposed to at least one furry pet – with 70 percent of those pets being dogs.
And researchers found being exposed to an animal pre- and post-natal subsequently boosted two types of bacteria – Ruminococcus and Oscillospira – in the gut; both have been linked with reducing childhood allergies and obesity, respectively.
Dr Anita Kozyrskyj, a University Of Alberta pediatric epidemiologist, said afterwards these benefits passed from dog to mother to unborn baby during pregnancy as well as in the first three months of a baby's life.
Incredibly, the study also found that having pets at home reduced the likelihood of the transmission of vaginal GBS (group B Strep) during birth.
The findings have been so encouraging, that a pharmaceutical alternative to dogs may be developed in the future.
As Dr Kozyrskyj explained: “It’s not far-fetched that the pharmaceutical industry will try to create a supplement of these microbiomes, much like was done with probiotics.”