Infants who live with or are exposed to dogs or cats in the first year of life have fewer respiratory illnesses than those who do not have contact with these pets, according to a new study from Finland.
Researchers followed nearly 400 children through age 1 and, using a weekly diary and a final questionnaire filled out by the parents, monitored the frequency of respiratory infections and the amount of dog or cat contact they had each week.
Infants living with a cat or dog were reported to have fewer weeks of a cough, cold, ear infection, or fever, and also to take fewer antibiotics than children who had no contact with a cat or dog. Among those living with a pet, the children whose dogs spent six hours or less inside had the lowest risk for respiratory infection, the study found.
The study suggests that early contact with animals may strengthen an infant’s immune system to better protect against respiratory infections, the researchers said.
BOTTOM LINE: Infants exposed to cats and dogs in the first year of life were less likely to have respiratory illnesses than those with no contact with these pets.
CAUTIONS: The study relied on self reports of pet ownership and respiratory illness. The study suggests a correlation between pets and reduced illness and does not prove that having a pet can lead to a healthier child. Families who chose not to have a pet may have done so because their infant was already at a higher risk for respiratory illness.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Pediatrics, July 2012
Fast food may boost risk of diabetes, heart disease in SE Asia
Increased consumption of American-style fast food by Southeast Asians may significantly increase their risk for diabetes and heart disease, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota and the National University of Singapore surveyed and interviewed more than 52,000 Chinese Singaporean men and women between 1999 and 2004 on their diet, lifestyle, and family history. Those who reported eating fast food at least twice a week were 27 percent more likely to develop diabetes and had a 56 percent higher risk of heart disease compared with those who did not eat fast food.
The 811 participants who reported eating fast food more than four times a week had an 80 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who reported rarely eating fast food.
The results suggest the health risks from consumption of American-style fast food may be seeping into the Eastern lifestyle, the researchers said.
BOTTOM LINE: Consumption of fast food by Southeast Asians may be associated with an increased risk for developing diabetes and heart disease.
CAUTIONS: The study relied on self reports of diet and lifestyle habits and disease status.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Circulation, July 2012