Toddler feeding cows© PhotoAlto/REX Shutterstock

Exposing children to farm animals could more than halve asthma cases in youngsters, according to scientists in Sweden.  

Information published in medical journal JAMA Pediatrics found farm animal exposure during infancy reduced asthma cases by 52% in children under six years old.

Dog exposure was also found to reduce cases by 13%.

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More than one million children were included in the study, which looked at whether having a parent registered as a dog owner or livestock farmer was associated with later diagnosis or medication for childhood asthma.

Researcher Tove Fall, Uppsala University, Sweden, said earlier studies had already shown growing up on a farm reduces a child’s risk of asthma by about half.

“Our results confirmed the farming effect, and we also saw that children who grew up with dogs had about 15% less chance of getting asthma than children without dogs.”

The study concluded the information could be useful for families and doctors in making the decision when to expose children to animals.