"Parents shouldn't feel guilty about having or not having a pet when their child is young. If you want a pet, get a pet," she advised.
Bergroth said she wouldn't tell parents whether or not to get a pet, but that her study's findings suggest that there is "no reason to avoid animal contacts because of fear of infections, at least not respiratory infections." She added that if there's a family history of allergies, it's more difficult to make recommendations regarding pets, and that the decision must be made on a case-by-case basis.
Learn more about potential health benefits from having a dog or cat from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
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