Little Lily Williams might not know it but the licks on the face she gets from her family's two golden retrievers could be doing her a world of good.
New research published in the American medical journal Pediatrics this week revealed babies who grew up with pet dogs suffered from fewer coughs and ear infections and required fewer courses of antibiotics.
A study of almost 400 children found contact with animals was important for babies less than 12 months old and could lead to better resistance to infectious respiratory illnesses during childhood.
Living with a cat was also better for a child's health than no pet contact. The findings from researchers at Kuopio University Hospital in Finland involved parents filling out daily questionnaires on their child's health and contact time with dogs and cats from when the tot was nine weeks old.
Results showed children living in houses in which dogs spent part of the day inside had the lowest risk of infectious symptoms and respiratory tract infections.
The findings suggested that dirt regularly brought into the home by dogs was likely to speed up the maturation of the child's immune system.
Glen Forrest mother Nikki Williams said nine-month-old Lily loved playing outside with the family's dogs.Lily had been in great health since birth besides a minor recent earache. "She loves the dogs and they love her too," Mrs Williams said.
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