Study finds link between dog ownership, decrease in eczema risk

(ABC News) – Expectant mothers are told to eat right, avoid alcohol, exercise and avoid cat litter.

That’s because it’s capable of transmitting toxoplasmosis, a rare parasite.

But what about the dog?

A new study for researchers in Michigan says a dog can be a pregnant woman’s best friend – especially if she wants to dodge childhood eczema.

Scientists surveyed expectant mothers, then examined their children at two years of age.

They found that mothers who kept dogs in the house, even for little as one hour per day during pregnancy, gave birth to children significantly less eczema at age two – approximately half the rate of their dog-less counterparts.

Unfortunately, by age ten, the benefit was gone.

The study isn’t able to say why dog ownership is associated with decreased eczema, but it does lend support to the hygiene hypothesis: that exposure to allergens like dogs and dust, may decrease a child’s risk of autoimmune disease, such as eczema.

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