Wednesday, 12 September 2012

pet dogs can help prevent allergies

There's an interesting article in The Age newspaper today. It says that having a pet dog that comes inside the house can protect very young children from developing egg allergies.

I've often heard it said that owning a dog can strengthen children's immune system, but this is the first time I've read of an actual research project that shows it's best if the dog lives in the house with the family.

Here's a quote from
Allergy experts from Melbourne's Murdoch Childrens Research Institute studied more than 5000 babies and found those with young siblings and infants exposed to a dog inside the home were less likely to develop an allergic reaction to egg...

Lead researcher Dr Jennifer Koplin said the risk of developing a food allergy seemed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

She said the immune system evolved at a time when people were exposed to more bacteria in food and the water supply, and infections through crowding and larger families.
Dr Koplin said it was possible developing infants were now not exposed to the right environmental factors to teach their immune systems how to react appropriately.
"They are reacting inappropriately to something that they should be able to tolerate which is in this case, food allergens, or food proteins," Dr Koplin told AAP.
The research suggested the protective effect of a family dog on egg allergy could be due to exposure to endotoxin, a type of bacteria.
Dr Koplin said endotoxin stimulates the immune system to attack bad bacteria and in doing so, is distracted from attacking harmless things in the environment like foods.

How great to read that we can benefit from treating our dogs as they'd wish - letting them live inside with the pack, instead of leaving them to languish in the backyard away from the family.


curator said...

That IS fascinating, and makes excellent sense. Besides, I can't imagine having our dog live in the back yard - what a lonely, cold existence.

Mitch and Molly said...

What a cool study! We think that everyone should have a dog or two :-)

Love ya lots,
Mitch and Molly

Lilli said...

That's really interesting. I've always thought that children have nowdays more allergies because their parents are so afraid of bacterias. I have none and I have rarely been sick (well I do have a little flu now and then but nothing more, like I have really rarely fewer or vomiting and it's been always like that) and I think that's thanks to my parents who let me lick shoes and eat sand and grass and I have eaten even the seeds from the birdhouse :D And I've been near dogs, let them lick my face etc. (although we didn't have dogs of our own but there's been different kind of animals near me all the time). It seems it's some kind of hysteria going on about bacterias, like that one clothes washing brand (I don't remember the name) who claims to destroy ALL the bacterias from the cloths. People doesn't seem to understand not all bacterias are bad and some of them we just need to stay healthy :D I'm going to let my child eat sand and grass and lick shoes and we definately will have at least dog/s.


parlance said...

Curator, I'm sad to say that in Australia it was traditional to have the dog live in the yard. It has changed, but this country is not really as dog friendly as other western countries.

parlance said...

Mitch and Molly, in retrospect, I think my life was so incomplete when I didn't have a dog.

parlance said...

Lilli, there's been reporting in the local press here that Australia has the highest level of allergies in the world and we don't know why. I think it might be because of what you say, that people are being too over-protective and the advertising campaigns frighten mothers and fathers because companies want to sell chemical-based products.