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Dogs vs. Asthma

July 9, 2012

Having a dog in the house may help protect babies from developing respiratory synctial virus (RSV) and asthma.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Dogs vs. asthma…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Respiratory synctial virus, or RSV, is common in infants and causes asthma-like symptoms. Now, researchers think growing up with a dog may help protect babies from developing RSV and asthma. UC San Francisco microbiologist Susan Lynch and her colleagues infected mice with RSV. One group was also fed dust from houses with dogs, while another wasn’t exposed to dust at all.

SUSAN LYNCH (UCSF):

And what we found is that the animals that were fed dust didn’t show any evidence of viral infection, they just looked like they never were infected with the RSV.

HIRSHON:

According to Lynch, humans aren’t all that different. Exposing the gastrointestinal tract to pet dust and other microbes early in life prepares it to respond appropriately to a variety of invaders. But since our modern lifestyles often involve living in immaculate houses, our immune systems often overreact instead. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Dogs may be a child's best friend in more ways than one. (Susanne Bard)