By Len Canter
Friday, November 16, 2018 (HealthDay News) – The "hygiene hypothesis" argues that early exposure to various microorganisms may reduce the risk of chronic inflammatory diseases, such as asthma.
Two Swedish studies that tracked 650,000 children found that exposure to agricultural animals and even dogs can have this kind of beneficial effect. Living in a farm reduced the rate of childhood asthma in half. Only having a dog in the first year of the baby was linked to a 13 percent less risk of asthma later, the researchers reported.
Most Americans do not live on farms, but these results show that raising a baby in a family with a dog can have benefits beyond love and company. Early exposure to cats as well as dogs may offer some protection against the development of allergies and asthma, health experts suggest.
Other steps can also help prevent childhood asthma.
First of all, do not smoke or allow anyone else to be at home. Smoking when pregnant increases the chances of a baby getting sick during childhood. And continuous exposure to second-hand smoke has a direct relationship with asthma and other respiratory diseases in children.
Also, try to breastfeed the baby for at least four or six months to strengthen your immune system and help prevent infections that begin in the lungs, common asthma triggers.
- Reduce exposure to dust mites, a common allergen.
- Use layers with zippers on pillows and mattresses, wash the entire bed in hot water once a week and keep the humidity in your home below 50 percent.
- If you can, keep the baby's room free of rugs and upholstered furniture, places where mites hide.