A lot of parents let their children play around and grow up with pets. While dogs and cats are equally a favorite of families, a new study suggests that cats are more beneficial to young kids as they can protect them from diseases such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
Cats are usually thought to be not good for infants but the new study by Danish scientists suggests otherwise – that is if the high-risk baby is born with a particular gene that makes them susceptible to the condition.
According to scientists at the University of Copenhagen, kids who are exposed early to allergens will have fewer chances of developing asthma. At the same time, the same benefit cannot be found in having dogs. To arrive at their findings, researchers followed 37 Danish kids by mapping their genes and taking note of their surroundings.
It was found that kids who grew up with cats are less likely to develop a particular genetic variation, which would increase the child’s risk of developing asthma when activated. Exposure to different allergens in cats helps strengthen a child’s developing immune system.
Why cats and not dogs?
Dog owners may pass on the high-five on this one and reason for this is that cats are possibly more likely to be in contact with a child’s bed compared to dogs. Cats bring in more of the beneficial fungi, bacteria or viruses into the home exposing little kids to these microorganisms and thereby boosting their immune system.
Although scientists admit that there’s still plenty of research to be done, it is still vital to understanding the interaction between genes and the environment, according to one of the lead researchers, Arne Høst. In an interview with The Telegraph, Høst said:
“Now it looks like the effect is linked to a particular gene-variant, which goes to show just how complex the development of asthma and allergies are. It’s not only about genes and the environment, but how the two interact, and there’s so much that we still don’t know.”
This study can be found in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
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