Exposure to dogs as a child reduces your risk of this mental disorder

You’ve probably read about some of the benefits of exposing children to pets at a young age. Animals can help socialize children and teach them empathy, increase verbal skills and confidence, and even help protect them from allergies. But according to a recent study from Johns Hopkins, there’s another benefit to exposing a child to a dog at a young age: a reduced risk of schizophrenia.

In the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers studied the implications of a child having contact with dogs and cats during the first 12 years of their life, and the impact it might have on the development of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia later on in life.

They examined 1,371 people between the ages of 18 and 65, of which 396 suffered from schizophrenia, 381 suffered from bipolar and 694 were mentally fit. The participants were asked whether they owned cats or dogs before the age of 12. The results showed that the participants who were exposed to dogs before the age of 13 were 24% less likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Study author Robert Yolken, MD, explained, “Serious psychiatric disorders have been associated with alterations in the immune system linked to environmental exposures in early life, and since household pets are often among the first things with which children have close contact, it was logical for us to explore the possibilities of a connection between the two.”

The study did not show a significant statistical link between exposure to dogs and bipolar disorder, and the results were unclear on whether cat exposure reduced or increased the likelihood of developing bipolar or schizophrenia.

Yolken noted, “The largest apparent protective effect was found for children who had a household pet dog at birth or were first exposed after birth but before age 3.” He added that exposure to dogs allows children to come into contact with different microorganisms that help boost the immune system and may in turn help prevent schizophrenia.


By Dr Joseph Mercola / Physician and author

Dr. Joseph Mercola has been passionate about health and technology for most of his life. As a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO), he treated thousands of patients for over 20 years.

Dr. Mercola finished his family practice residency in 1985. Because he was trained under the conventional medical model, he treated patients using prescription drugs during his first years of private practice and was actually a paid speaker for drug companies.

But as he began to experience the failures of the conventional model in his practice, he embraced natural medicine and found great success with time-tested holistic approaches. He founded The Natural Health Center (formerly The Optimal Wellness Center), which became well-known for its whole-body approach to medicine.

In 1997, Dr. Mercola integrated his passion for natural health with modern technology via the Internet. He founded the website Mercola.com to share his own health experiences and spread the word about natural ways to achieve optimal health. Mercola.com is now the world’s most visited natural health website, averaging 14 million visitors monthly and with over one million subscribers.

Dr. Mercola aims to ignite a transformation of the fatally flawed health care system in the United States, and to inspire people to take control of their health. He has made significant milestones in his mission to bring safe and practical solutions to people’s health problems.

Dr. Mercola authored two New York Times Bestsellers, The Great Bird Flu Hoax and The No-Grain Diet. He was also voted the 2009 Ultimate Wellness Game Changer by the Huffington Post, and has been featured in TIME magazine, LA Times, CNN, Fox News, ABC News with Peter Jennings, Today Show, CBS’s Washington Unplugged with Sharyl Attkisson, and other major media resources.

Stay connected with Dr. Mercola by following him on Twitter. You can also check out his Facebook page for more timely natural health updates.

(Source: mercola.com; December 21, 2019; https://tinyurl.com/ve4wrdt)
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