Report How growing up with pets, dust may boost mental health

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  1. tom_mai78101

    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    Children raised in a rural environment, surrounded by animals and bacteria-laden dust, grow up to have more stress-resilient immune systems and might be at lower risk of mental illness than pet-free city dwellers, according to new research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

    The study, co-authored by researchers from the University of Ulm in Germany and CU Boulder, adds to mounting evidence supporting the "hygiene hypothesis," which posits that overly sterile environments can breed health problems.

    The research also suggests that raising kids around pets might be good for mental health—for reasons people might not expect.

    "It has already been very well documented that exposure to pets and rural environments during development is beneficial in terms of reducing risk of asthma and allergies later in life," said co-author Christopher Lowry, a professor of integrative physiology at CU Boulder. "This study moves the conversation forward by showing for the first time in humans that these same exposures are likely to be important for mental health."

    For the study, led by University of Ulm Professor Stefan Reber, the scientists recruited 40 healthy German men between 20 and 40 years old. Half had grown up on a farm with farm animals. Half had grown up in a large city without pets.

    On test day, all were asked to give a speech in front of a group of stone-faced observers and then asked to solve a difficult math problem while being timed.

    Blood and saliva were taken five minutes before and five, 15, 60, 90 and 120 minutes after the test.

    Those who grew up in cities had significantly higher levels of immune system components called peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) after the stressful experience.


    Read more here. (University of Colorado, Boulder)
     

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