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Johns Hopkins Study Suggests Exposure to Dogs Lessens Risk of Developing Schizophrenia


Researches at Johns Hopkins now believe that spending time with dogs at a young age could lessen the chance of developing schizophrenia as an adult. Tests were conducted for four age ranges: birth to 3, 4 to 5, 6 to 8 and 9 to 12. Findings suggests that people who are exposed to a pet dog before their 13th birthday are significantly less likely, up to 24%, to be diagnosed later with schizophrenia, while the highest percentages were found in the ‘birth to 3’ group. The current theory suggests there is something in the canine microbiome that gets passed on to the child and stimulates the immune system against a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia.


Robert Yolken, M.D., chair of the Stanley Division of Pediatric Neurovirology and professor of neurovirology in pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, and lead author of the research paper:

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 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,” “There are several plausible explanations for this possible ‘protective’ effect from contact with dogs, perhaps something in the canine microbiome that gets passed to humans and bolsters the immune system against or subdues a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia,”


To read the source article for this post from Johns Hopkins, click here.