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Cohort study
Contact with dogs during the first year of life is associated with decreased risk of respiratory illness
  1. Cornelis K van der Ent,
  2. Anne C van der Gugten
  1. Department of Paediatric Pulmonology, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to : Cornelis K van der Ent
    Department of Paediatric Pulmonology, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, University Medical Center Utrecht, Lundlaan 6, Utrecht 3508 AB, The Netherlands; K.vanderent{at}

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Commentary on: Bergroth E, Remes S, Pekkanen J, et al. Respiratory tract illnesses during the first year of life: effect of dog and cat contacts. Pediatrics 2012;130:211–20.

Implications for practice and research

  • Early dog contacts are associated with fewer respiratory infections in infants, especially otitis, but not wheezing after adjustment for possible confounders.

  • Early animal contacts are important, possibly leading to changes in immune development and a better resistance to infectious respiratory diseases in infants.

  • Future research is needed to explore the mechanism of the favourable effect of dog exposure and whether similar results occur over a longer period.


Several groups have studied the associations between animal contacts early in life and asthma and allergic diseases in childhood.1 Reports on the association between pet exposure and respiratory infection are sparse. Results have been …

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