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Dogs Shown To Reduce Asthma Risk in Children

The next time your friend asks you to keep your dog away from her baby – send her this article! Researchers at the University of Arizona have found a link between an infant’s exposure to dogs and a reduced risk of contracting Asthma. In this article from the UA News, we learn more about this exciting study.

Dogs Are Shown to Reduce Asthma Risk in Children

Researchers at the UA aim to learn more about how the presence of dogs at home seems to reduce the risk of children contracting asthma and its related conditions later in life.

Serrine Lau, professor at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, and a team of UA researchers have received a two-year National Institutes of Health Challenge Grant of $937,302 to study how dogs present in the home near the time of a child’s birth decrease his or her chance of developing asthma.

Lau, who is principal investigator on the study, is also director of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and a member of the BIO5 Institute.

“Several longitudinal studies have shown that exposure to certain domestic animals, for example, indoor dogs, during a person’s early life (even possibly before he or she is born) is associated with strong protection against asthma and asthma-related conditions later in life,” Lau said. “The purpose of our research is to learn more about the biological mechanisms responsible for the protective effects of dog exposure. Conceivably, this could be a step toward someday leveraging these mechanisms for treatment or even preventive purposes.”

Lau, who is an expert in proteomics, will be joined on the project by BIO5 faculty Marilyn Halonen, and Dr. Donata Vercelli,  experts in allergy biology and immunology, and Dean Billheimer, a biostatistician.

Together, the team will use their complementary expertise to study a unique set of samples and data from the Infant Immune Study. The principal investigator of the infant immune study is Anne Wright, associate director of the Arizona Respiratory Center and professor in the UA College of Medicine.

This longitudinal study of asthma and allergy, conducted at the UA’s Arizona Respiratory Center, enrolled at birth a large unselected population of children and is still following then eight years later, gathering detailed information about immunological parameters, allergies and lung function.

The team hypothesizes that exposure to dogs at an early age creates a “signature” (either the presence or the modification of a protein) in a child’s blood.

By comparing the signatures of children known to have been exposed to dogs at an early age with the signatures of children known not to have been exposed to dogs, and by noting the presence or absence of asthma in the children, the team hopes to learn more about how children exposed to dogs at an early age are protected from asthma.

You can read more about this exciting study by the University of Arizona by clicking here. Proof that exposure to dogs is shown to reduce the occurrence of asthma in children is just one more reason have a dog around! (As if we needed another reason…) Feel free to share this article with your friends and tell us your thoughts below!

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