Top of page
Health

Early-Life Exposure to Dogs May Lessen Risk of Developing Schizophrenia

A recent study by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers suggests that exposure to pet dogs before the age of 13 may lessen the chance of developing schizophrenia later in life. 

Ever since humans domesticated the dog, the faithful, obedient and protective animal has provided its owner with companionship and emotional well-being. Now, a study from Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests that being around “man’s best friend” from an early age may have a health benefit as well — lessening the chance of developing schizophrenia as an adult.

And while Fido may help prevent that condition, the jury is still out on whether or not there’s any link, positive or negative, between being raised with Fluffy the cat and later developing either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

“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,” says 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 a research paper recently posted online in the journal PLOS One.

The researchers caution that more studies are needed to confirm these findings, to search for the factors behind any strongly supported links, and to more precisely define the actual risks of developing psychiatric disorders from exposing infants and children under age 13 to pet cats and dogs.

You might also like

3d male brain highlighted 3d male brain highlighted

New brain stimulation method holds promise in brain disorder treatment

The human brain’s adaptability to internal and external changes, known…

baby playing with balls on floor at home baby playing with balls on floor at home

NDIS backs innovative approaches for infants showing early signs of autism

Minister for the NDIS, Bill Shorten, and WA Minister for…

Doctor's hand holds test tube in blood Doctor's hand holds test tube in blood

HIV testing disparities identified in intellectual disability care

People with disabilities are often at higher risk for exposure…

man holding his painful knee man holding his painful knee

Rheumatoid arthritis drug shows preventive potential in clinical trial

Results from a Phase 2b clinical trial, published in The…