Cleanliness Isn’t All Its Cracked Up To Be

May 1, 2008 at 3:59 am 2 comments

This just in from Agence France-Presse:

Scientists have found that Man’s best friend is also good for his children too, for young kids who live with a dog may get an immune-system boost against asthma and other allergies.  Joachim Heinrich of the Institute of Epidemiology at the Heimholtz Centre in Munich, Germany, led an investigation into more than 3,000 children, whose health was closely monitored from birth to the age of six.

Blood tests showed that, in households with dogs, children were less at risk from becoming sensitised to pollens and inhaled allergens — the triggers for asthma and wheezing, allergic rhinitis and eczema — than counterparts in dog-less homes.  Heinrich believes that early exposure to germs brought into the house on dog fur could stimulate maturation of the immune system. In other words, the body’s defences do not go into allergic overdrive when they are suddenly exposed to dust house mites, pollens and other triggers.

Oddly, though, the benefit seen in the children’s antibodies did not show through in terms of symptoms, the study found.  Children with a dog were as susceptible to asthma and the other problems as counterparts without the pets.  “It is not crystal clear why this is so,” Heinrich told AFP, saying it could be that the protective benefit may show up when the children in the study are a little older. Further assessments will be made when they reach the age of 10.

Hey, I always suspected that my house-full of dogs and sporadic housekeeping habits were a good thing, now I’ve got proof!  In more from the UK’s Daily Mail:

Children who are licked by dogs may also be protected by early exposure to bugs that live in the dogs’ mouths and on their coats.

Previous generations were exposed to more dirt – and the micro-organisms in it – which helped their immune systems develop resistance.

So, does this explain why when I was a child back in the 1960’s we didn’t have to eliminate all peanuts, dogs, live plants and other potential allergens from class rooms?  Back then we may not all have had dogs, but we were all required to play outside.  In the dirt.  Unsupervised.  And not only did it not kill us, it may have made us grow up to be healthy, confident nature-lovers.

Dirt is Good!

Entry filed under: dog, dogs, health, pet, pets.

Hunters 1 – HSUS 0 City Slickers

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