A study done by German researchers has found that babies who sleep on animal fur are around 80% less likely to suffer from asthma at the age of six.
The effect reduces as children grow up and the percentage drops to 40% for those aged ten.
It is believed that the exposure of babies to the microbes present in animal skins boosts their immune system.
It has already been shown that children who grow up with pets are less likely to suffer from allergies and asthma.
The director of research and policy at Asthma UK, Dr Samantha Walker, said this research indicates the lower risk to asthma, although previous studies have not shown an effect on the development of asthma during later life. She said asthma is a very complex condition, so any new research is welcomed as it takes a step closer to a cure.
She thanked researchers at the MRC-Asthma UK Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma for their work around finding new development methods for treatments.
She added that anyone who is experiencing worsening symptoms of asthma that may be caused by their pets should visit their doctor or asthma nurse for a review. The problem could be alleviated by an adjustment of medications or trying an alternate drug to control the condition.
The study recruited 3000 newborn babies during 1998 and tracked their health as they grew up. Around 50% of them had slept on animal skin during the first three months of life.
Dr Christina Tischer, based at the Helmholtz Zentrum München Research Centre, said previous studies which have been completed suggested that microbes present in rural settings can protect individuals from asthma.
She stated that animal skin may house different types of microbes, similar to those as have been seen in rural settings. She added that their findings act as confirmation that further study is required to confirm the links.
Image Credit: Jesse Davis