It appears man's best friend may provide some valuable benefits to new parents and their baby.
Researchers in Finland found that babies up to a year old in homes with dogs were not only healthier overall, but also had fewer respiratory tract symptoms and fewer infections.
"One question that I get asked a lot as a pediatrician is, ‘Can I have a dog in the house? I have this new baby. Is that going to be a problem?' So this article really shows that in that first year it can actually be a good thing to have them both together," explains Dr. Emma Raizman of the Cleveland Clinic.
Raizman did not participate in the study, but she says researchers believe that a dog, and to a lesser extent cats, help a baby's immune system mature faster -- and that means fewer runny noses and doctor visits.
"Now you always want to make sure for safety reasons you never leave your baby alone with your dog, but when it comes to the immune system, having a dog in the home can help with that," she notes.
The study is no surprise to dog owners. Dog owners have long believed that owning a dog really contributes to the well being of the whole family.
"Even when I have a bad day at work and the dog comes and greets me, it changes my whole personality," says Mark Russo of Ohio. "When I come home, it's time to have fun with it and stuff like that!"
And that "stuff," according to this research, now includes a healthier baby.
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