Four-legged friends may help reduce the risk of asthma and allergies in children. According to a new study “Sleeping on animal fur in the first three months of life reduces the risk of asthma in later childhood” presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress in Munich, Germany earlier this week, allowing a child to sleep on animal fur during the first 3 months of life may also be enough to prevent asthma later on in childhood.
“Previous studies have suggested that microbes found in rural settings can protect from asthma,” said Dr. Christina Tischer of the Helmholtz Zentrum München Research Centre. “An animal skin might also be a reservoir for various kinds of microbes, following similar mechanisms as has been observed in rural environments. Our findings have confirmed that it is crucial to study further the actual microbial environment within the animal fur to confirm these associations.”
According to Hope Gillette at Voxxi.com, researchers followed more than 2,000 children from infancy to age 10, with slightly more than half of those children sleeping on animal fur during the first 3 months of life. At the end of the study period, children who had slept on animal skin were 79 percent less likely to have developed asthma by the age of 6 than children who had not been exposed to animal skin, with the decreased risk remaining for 41 percent of participants by the final age of 10.
“Parents, especially first-time parents, often go into lock-down mode, desperately trying to prevent children from being exposed to possible illness,” writes Gillette. “While it is beneficial to maintain good sanitation protocols and health rules, preventing children from experiencing natural immunity is considered more harmful than allowing them to occasionally become ill.”
Source: European Respiratory Society