Published June 21, 2012
Man’s best friend is giving kids more than just their loyal companionship – they’re giving them strong lungs as well.
A new study found that microbes living on pet dogs help to strengthen a child’s immune system against asthma, Discovery News reported.
Infants with a condition called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are at a greater risk of developing asthma. But after examining dust found in the homes of families with dogs, researchers found they contained a bacteria that protected against RSV.
Their findings back previous research that has indicated differences in the dust of homes with and without dogs, as well as studies that found children who had pet dogs were less likely to have asthma.
In order to test the dust’s protective effects, the researchers collected dust from homes with dogs and then mixed it in a solution which they fed to mice. After a little over a week, the mice were given RSV and compared to another group of mice who were also given RSV as well as a control group of healthy mice.
The mice who were given the house dust solution did not develop the symptoms related to RSV. The researchers also found a distinct group of bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract of these mice that the other groups of mice did not have.
While the scientists believe this bacteria was what helped to protect the mice against RSV, they are not exactly sure which bacteria were key for the response.