Exposure of children to pets during early age reduces the risk of obesity and allergies by enriching gut bacteria: Research

A study conducted by the scientists from the university of Alberta in Canada has found that exposed to pets from earlier age has a lower risk of obesity and will have fewer allergies. Scientists say that dogs expose the children to dirt and bacteria in their early life and thereby enhances early immunity. Early studies have shown that spending some time with the pets be it cat or dog reduces the anxiety and blood pressure and also induce the release of relaxation hormones such as serotonin and dopamine which brings a state of calmness and thereby reduce the levels of stress.

Exposure of children to pets during early age reduces the risk of obesity and allergies by enriching gut bacteria: Research

In the current study, researchers found that pets enrich the two types of gut bacteria in children at their early age. The bacteria are Ruminococcus and oscillospira and both of them are associated with reducing childhood obesity and allergies. Pets can also transfer the beneficial effect of gut bacteria to unborn babies during mother's pregnancy. 

So even though pets may not be present after childbirth still they can confer the microbial advantage to the unborn babies in the mother's womb. The study further found that having pets reduces the transfer of vaginal bacteria from mothers to babies during birth. These bacteria cause pneumonia in newborns and doctors usually inject antibodies to mothers during delivery to control the bacteria.
Also Read: Want your children to be smarter and intelligent? Then send them to horse riding; Research finds sitting on the saddle improves memory and learning 

Research Methodology

Researchers collected and analyzed the fecal samples of 746 infants from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study whose mothers were enrolled for pregnancy during 2009 to 2012.More than half of the infants are exposed to at least one pet when they are in their womb or during childbirth, with 70% of the pets being dogs. 
When the researchers compared the fecal samples of infants exposed to pets with that of unexposed infants they found higher levels(two-fold) of  Ruminococcus and oscillospira in infants exposed to pets.

The current findings may pave the way for a "dog in a pill" treatment for the control of obesity and allergies in children. Researchers opine that pharmaceutical companies may try to create a supplement of these microbiomes similar to that done with probiotics

The Research study was published in the journal Microbiome

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