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A new study by the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry has found that babies from families with dog pets had increased immunity.

Anita Kozyrskyi, the study lead, who is one of the world’s leading researchers on gut microbes, says that the period of exposure is however crucial. The theory behind is that early exposure to bacteria and dirt creates early immunity.

They found that pet exposure during pregnancy or up to three months after birth elevate the abundance of two bacteria, Oscillospira and Ruminococcos, which respectively have been associated with reduced childhood obesity and allergies.  

They also found that there was a two-fold increase in the abundance of these two bacteria when the pet was in the house. This increased pet exposure affected the gut microbe indirectly—dog to mother to unborn baby—both during pregnancy and during baby’s first three months of life. Thus, even if they give away the dog for adoption before the child’s birth, the exchange of healthy microbes could still occur.  

Kozyrskyi believes that this research finding would soon be used by the pharmaceutical industry to create these microbial supplements, in the way they did with probiotics.

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