Dogs may protect kids against eczema and asthma, two U.S. studies released Friday show the new findings that may give people more reasons to love dogs.
The first study showed babies born in a home with a dog during pregnancy receive protection from allergic eczema.
The study examined mother-child pairs' exposure to a dog, which was defined as keeping one or more dogs indoors for at least one hour daily.
"We found a mother's exposure to dogs before the birth of a child is significantly associated with lower risk of eczema by age two years, but this protective effect goes down at age 10," study author Edward Zoratti, member of a professional medical association called the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), said in a statement
A second study showed dogs may provide a protective effect against asthma, even in children allergic to dogs.
For the study, researchers examined the effects of two different types of dog exposure on children with asthma in the U.S. city Baltimore.
The first type was the protein, or allergen, that affects children who are allergic to dogs, and the second type was elements, such as bacteria, that a dog might carry.
The researchers concluded that exposure to the non-allergen elements that dogs carry may have a protective effect against asthma symptoms, but exposure to the allergen may result in more asthma symptoms among urban children with dog allergy.
"There seems to be a protective effect on asthma of non-allergen dog-associated exposures, and a harmful effect of allergen exposure," said lead author Po-Yang Tsou of Johns Hopkins University.
"However, dog allergen exposure remains a major concern for kids who are allergic to dogs," said Tsou.
The researchers cautioned that people with dog allergy should work with their allergist to reduce exposure.
The results of the two studies were presented at the ACAAI Annual Scientific Meeting held in Boston this week.