Pets can boost a baby's health
Animal lovers know that their beloved pets make them feel better. Just petting an animal has been shown to calm people and lower their blood pressure.
New research shows that even babies' health can benefit from living in the same home with pets.
A new study published last week in Pediatrics, a medical journal, states that children who live in households with pets during the first five years of life tend to get sick less often than kids from pet-free households.
In fact, sharing a home with a pet can promote the body's defenses, the study says. It's not just the pet that boosts the child's immunities. The study suggests the dirt and microbes carried indoors with animals can boost the function of healthy bacteria, yeast and other creatures that live in a child's body.
For the study, the health of 397 Finnish children was tracked by European researchers. The researchers found that having pets was linked to fewer incidences of illness in the babies. And dogs seem to provide more protection than cats, according to the study.
Here's the rub: living with pets was linked to good health, but the benefits were greatest when the pets spent most of their time outdoors. Babies whose family pet cat spent more than 16 hours a day indoors were healthy 70.8 percent of the time. In homes where pet cats spent less than six hours per day inside, babies were healthy 78.2 percent of the time.