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Early exposure to animals may cut asthma risk in half

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Dog tibby
Study   The analyses included nearly 660,000 children

Children who are exposed to dogs or farm animals during their first year of life may have a reduced risk for asthma at the age of six, according to a study in journal JAMA Pediatrics.

The findings are in accordance with the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which suggests that too-clean environments promote allergies, including asthma.

"Earlier studies have shown that growing up on a farm reduces a child's risk of asthma by about half," lead author Tove Fall of the Uppsala University in Sweden, said in a statement.

"We wanted to see if this relationship also was true also for children growing up with dogs in their homes."

In the new study, Fall and colleagues looked at data from all of the more than 1 million children born from 2001 through 2010 in Sweden, where dog owners have been required by law to register their pet since 2001.

The analyses included nearly 660,000 preschool-age or school-age children who are exposed to dogs or farm animals.

They found that dog exposure during the first year of life was associated with a 13 percent decreased risk of asthma in six-year-old children, while farm animal exposure cut the risk by 52 percent.

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