Microbes that live on dogs may help strengthen children’s immune systems, especially against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which has been shown to significantly increase the risk of developing asthma, researchers from the University of California at San Francisco find.
RSV affects approximately 90 percent of infants worldwide, Discovery Channel reported June 20.
Earlier research shows that children in households with pet dogs have lower rates of asthma than children in dog-free households, but this study is the first to show that the relationship may have a microbial origin.
Approximately 7 million U.S. children have asthma, and asthma rates in the U.S. have risen steadily in the last decade, from 7.4 percent of the population in 2001 to 8.4 percent in 2010, according to government data.
The study was presented in June 2012 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
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