Pets can help to strengthen children's immune systems, study shows
Saturday 15 June 2002
Children from pet-owning families have stronger immune systems and are ill less frequently than other youngsters, research has shown.
Doctors who tested the saliva of 138 children found that those exposed to animals had more stable immune systems than those that were not, which meant they were better at fending off infection. They were also less likely to take days off school than other children.
Dr June McNicholas, a health psychologist from the University of Warwick who led the study, said: "Pet ownership was significantly associated with better school attendance rates. This was apparent across all classes, but was most pronounced in the lower school [classes one to three for age groups five to eight].
"Here, the pet owners benefited from up to 18 extra half-days' schooling per annum than their non-pet owning counterparts."
The researchers tested the children's saliva for the antibody immunoglobulin A (IgA), which is used as an indicator of immune system strength. The study showed antibody levels in pet-owning children were considerably more stable than in other children, indicating that they had robust immune systems.
The results appear to support the "dirty hypothesis", which argues that too much cleanliness early in life can weaken the immune system, a possible reason for the soaring rates of childhood asthma.
Dr McNicholas warned, though, that being too close to a pet could cause health problems. One of the biggest risks was a dog roundworm, which could cause stomach ache and eye damage.
Life & Style blogs
Snapchat removed the Best Friends list feature and 'stalkers' are upset
Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
Eight-year-old girl Camilla Lisant suggests possible cure for cancer to her scientist father
Lack of medically trained staff leaves NHS 111 phone service struggling to cope, claims insider
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...
£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...