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Furry pets could help prevent allergies and obesity in children

H. M. Tun, T. Konya, T. K. Takaro, J. R. Brook, R. Chari, C. J. Field and others

MICROBIAL colonisation of the infant gastrointestinal tract is an essential process in our life cycle and microbiota host interactions during this developmental stage have a significant influence on future health. Rising rates of pet ownership globally have stimulated interest on the impact of pets on microbial gut development in infants. This study aimed to examine the influence of furry pets on faecal microbial composition in infants at three to four months old, following various birth scenarios.

The mothers of 746 infants included in the study were asked about pet ownership at recruitment in the second or third trimester of pregnancy and at three months after giving birth, and grouped according to the following pet exposure variables: no pet exposure in the pre- or postnatal periods, only prenatal pet exposure, and both pre- and postnatal pet exposure. Microbiota analysis was performed on faecal samples collected from infants at age three to four months.

Over half of the infants were exposed to at least one furry pet in the prenatal and/or postnatal periods. Higher overall species …

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