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Asthma Risk in Kids Lowered By Having Pets



Asthma can be caused and brought about by practically anything. Even the most innocent things like mold, pollen, and dust mites can already trigger an attack. For those who enjoy animals, unfortunately, keeping pets at home can be a wrong move as pet dander can trigger an asthma attack. And although there are ways to prevent asthma attacks and live with pets at the same time, many people opt just to let go of their pets to be sure.

With the numerous studies and reported first-hand experience, many people have come to believe that keeping pets inside a home can trigger asthma among children. As a result, parents steer clear of dogs, cats, and other furry animals to protect their kids.

A new study featured in Medical News Today has, however, found the opposite. It has found out that children that live with dogs have presented a lower risk of developing asthma. This study was conducted by researches at San Francisco’s University of California and was introduced in the 2012 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

The study authors have stated that the dust present in houses with dogs can serve as a protective agent in acquiring infections caused by a respiratory virus, something that bears a close link with asthma among children.

One of the researchers of the study, Kei Fujimura, explained their process of getting into such a conclusion. The team gathered up dust mites that are found in homes with dogs and fed them to mice. Upon further examination, they found that these mice acquired protection from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), an airway infectious agent common in infants and children, and can exhibit mild to severe respiratory symptoms. It is an acute infection during infancy that is believed to increase the risk of these children in developing asthma.

In the trial, the team looked into mice of 3 various types. The first group was composed of mice fed with dust mites from homes with dogs before any RSV infections. The next group had mice that have been infected with the RSV virus and were not given dust exposure, while the last ones were not infected with RSV and served as their control group.

The results showed that the first group showed no symptoms related to RSV infection, like mucus production and inflammation. They also had a unique gastrointestinal bacterial composition that was different from those mice in the second group. These bacterial clusters, which seemingly formed a colony in the digestive tract of mice, might be the one that is protecting the host against RSV.

Kei Fujimura believes that the results of their study can potentially be a start in knowing what microbial species can offer protection in the acquisition of respiratory pathogens such as RSV. The team believes that their research will come in handy to understand microbe effects in pointing out diseases. Their findings can even pave the way in formulating RSV treatments and ultimately lower the risk for childhood asthma.