Babies growing up with dogs less likely to develop illness

Colds, infections, less likely in children with pets

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FINLAND - If you're going to be new parent, you may have considered giving away a beloved family pet when your new bundle of joy arrives. But you may not want to do that.

CBS News is reporting a new study says babies growing up in a home with dogs are much less likely to develop ear infections and colds while they're still little.

The Finnish study, published online in Pediatrics, tracked 397 children in Finland using weekly questionnaires. They were checked from birth until they were about a year old. The questionnaires asked parents the status of their children's health, and whether or not they owned a pet.

Researchers said about 62 percent of those children had a dog in the home, and 34 percent grew up with a cat. However, not all children had a pet throughout the entire study.

    The results of the study indicated that though colds and wheezing are common in babies, those that had early and regular contact with pets were much healthier during the study and were up to 30 percent less likely to experience coughs, ear infections and symptoms associated with colds.

The study did find that while owning a cat did seem to help young children, the effect was less than those owning a dog.

Researchers said the strongest benefits were seen in children who had a dog inside at home for six hours a day or fewer, rather than at home all day, which might suggest what dogs track in may help boost early immunity.

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