Link Found Between Pet Ownership and Health 

Research out of the School of Public Health found that pets impact our health. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 28, 2020) – Your pet might do more for you than just provide companionship, according to new research out of the School of Public Health.

Environmental Health Sciences professors Shao Lin and Michael Bloom and PhD student Tia Marks collaborated with an international team on two studies exploring the relationship between pet ownership, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and health - finding that pets may provide protective health benefits in some instances, while increasing risk in others.

Published in Science of the Total Environment and Environmental Research respectively, the first study looked at whether exposure to pets influences the association between high blood pressure in children and environmental tobacco smoke, while the second study explored the relationship of environmental tobacco smoke and lung function during different time periods.

Blood pressure and other basic measurements were collected, along with a questionnaire completed by the parents of 9,354 children between the ages of 5 and 17 recruited from 62 schools in seven northeastern cities in China from 2012-2013. The team found that children who were exposed to pets were at a lower risk of having high blood pressure associated with exposure to environmental tobacco smoke than those who were not exposed to pets. In addition, the protective effect of pet ownership became stronger with a greater number of pets in the home.

For the second study, the team collected lung function data from 7,326 children between the ages of 7 and 14 measured by spirometry, which evaluates how much air is inhaled and exhaled. Information on pet ownership time periods and tobacco smoke exposure was gathered via parental questionnaire.

Results showed that the time window of pet ownership may have an influence on the effects of smoke on lung function; Pet exposure in utero and during the first two years of life, but not current ownership, increased the risk of impairment of lung function associated with environmental tobacco smoke.

“These studies provide significant insight into how owning pets may influence the relationship between environmental tobacco smoke and children’s health,” said Bloom and Lin. “While the studies took place in China, cardiovascular and respiratory issues are prevalent worldwide, so these results merit further investigation among children from other populations.”


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