According to American researchers, people who lived with a dog before they were 13 have a 24% lower risk of suffering from schizophrenia.
We can no longer count the health benefits of living with a dog , especially with regard to children . Recently published in the scientific journal Plos One , a new study found that it was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of developing a mental disorder in adulthood.
Scientists analyzed data from 1,371 adult men and women , between the ages of 18 and 65 . 396 of them were schizophrenic , 381 with bipolar disorder and 594 with psychiatric illnesses . They were all asked if they had a dog or a cat during the first 12 years of their life .
They found that adults who had a dog before the age of 13 had a 24% lower risk of becoming schizophrenic . The researchers believe, on the one hand, that canines are carriers of a living organism, probably a very small insect , which would stimulate the child’s immune system and strengthen his intestinal microbiota . On the other hand, they point out that playing with a dog reduces stress in young humans. 2 elements which, according to them, could play a protective role against schizophrenia .
Prof Yolken recalled that the exact cause of this mental illness was not yet known , but that a combination of genetic and environmental factors was most likely involved.
On the other hand, the observation is different when it comes to cats . The study authors found that having a feline before the age of 13 was not associated with any reduction in the risk of developing mental illness. This would even have the opposite effect , since the parasite Toxoplasma gondii , carried by cats and responsible for toxoplasmosis , has been shown to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia by 50% .
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