The Surprising Benefit to Having Kids and Pets Under One Roof

Has anyone told you you should give up your pet now that you're pregnant? Show them this.

Pregnant Women and Pets Dariia Pavlova/Shutterstock
If you're a pregnant pet owner, chances are you might be a bit worried about raising a child and taking care of an animal at the same time. And sure, it's a bit of a juggling act—but it also comes with some pretty unexpected benefits.

According to a new study from the University of Alberta, infants who grow up with pets have protection against obesity and allergies, thanks to the exposure to microbes from the animals in your life. The researchers examined the fecal material from Canadian infants as part of their study, and found that proximity to pets can boost a baby's production of two types of bacteria—Ruminococcus, which has been linked to reduced childhood allergies; and Oscillospira, which may reduce obesity odds.

Unfortunately, though, this effect can only take place during a short window of time—while you're still pregnant, or in the first three months of life. 

"There's definitely a critical window of time when gut immunity and microbes co-develop, and when disruptions to the process result in changes to gut immunity," researcher Anita Kozyrskyj said, according to a release for the news. 

But while the window of benefit is small, experts believe it can take place whether babies were born via vaginal birth or C-section, and whether or not babies are breastfed.

This effect is still being studied, but experts believe that this may lead the pharmaceutical industry to create medications that could replicate this effect. But for right now, just rest assured that your beloved pet won't just be bringing you tons of joy—he or she may also be keeping your baby super healthy.