Are you thinking of starting a family? You might want to get a dog or cat, first. Because new research shows that women who have animals have healthier babies. Epidemiologists at the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health asked more than 700 mothers about the pets they owned during pregnancy, and for several months after the baby was born. The result: Babies whose mothers were exposed to pet germs during pregnancy were much less likely to pass along dangerous germs during delivery… Including ones linked to serious infections, like sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis.

Also, babies exposed to furry animals – especially dogs – had significantly higher levels of two beneficial types of gut bacteria. And had a much lower risk for developing allergies or becoming obese.

The researchers predict that, just like with probiotics, one day we’ll be able to take a so-called “pet in a pill.” Where people who aren’t around animals will be able to ingest the health-boosting pet microbes that fight against allergies and obesity.

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