A recent study published in Microbiome from researchers at the University of Alberta shows that babies from families with pets had nearly two-fold increases in the amount of two specific microbes in their guts, Ruminococcus and Oscillospira. These particular microbes are associated with reduced risks of developing childhood allergies as well as obesity. According to study author Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, “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.” For this study, they examined exposure during pregnancy through three months of age after birth. What is remarkable is that the changes in the microbiome were evident after both indirect (mother transferring to unborn baby) as well as direct contact between the baby and the pet. I am sure pet owners and pet adoption agencies alike will be eager to share the findings from this study.