The age-old spiel from children everywhere: "I want a puppy!" Well, studies show that you might want to consider their request more seriously.
A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine demonstrates that if children are exposed to pet dogs before age 13, their likelihood of developing schizophrenia later in life decreases.
Although the authors of the study warn that more research is necessary, they are also able to cite alternative prior research that helps to support their findings.
Apparently, early exposure to pets may alter the immune system through a variety of means, such as allergic responses, contact with animal viruses and bacteria, and changes in the microbiome—not to mention pet-related stress reduction that may impact the brain chemistry of humans.
The study detailed the relationship between exposure to a household pet during the first 12 years of life and a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder later in life. Surprisingly, a statistically significant decrease in risk was present.