Children who grow up with a dog as a pet have a 15 percent lower potential for developing asthma later in life. Tove Fall, Assistant Professor in Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory at Uppsala University in Sweden, and colleagues at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden are the first to provide conclusive proof that owing a dog as a child reduces the incidence of asthma.
The study also confirmed that children who grow up on farms have a 50 percent lower potential for developing asthma. The cause of the protection from asthma from farm life and from dogs is basically the same. Dogs acquire common allergens when they go outside. The dogs expose the children to the allergens. The exposure to allergens develops immunity to the allergen in children that have dogs.
The results of the study were tremendously facilitated by the extensive electronic medical record keeping that is a part of Swedish law. Likewise, dogs in Sweden are scrupulously followed by medical records from the day of their birth. The discovery would have been impossible without the extensive record keeping in Sweden. The study examined over one million children and the incidence of asthma in the children.
The study is not recommending that a cure for asthma is having a dog or a cat. Some people are allergic to dogs and cats. The study does suggest that a lower possibility for developing asthma as an adult is correlated with owning a dog as a child.