Study shows children with pet dogs are less likely to develop anxiety disorders.
Man’s best friend seems to have an extra benefit for his children, according to a new study cited on cbs.com.
A team of researchers from Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, New York, say their study reveals children in families with dogs as pets are less likely to suffer from anxiety.
Dr. Anne Gadomski, a research scientist and attending pediatrician at Bassett Healthcare Network, and the study author said their team studied children with dogs because that was the most common pet and would allow for a large number of study subjects.
The study, which included 370 kids with dogs and 273 kids that didn’t have a dog, asked questions to parents of children between the ages of four and 10, as they came in for wellness check-ups for their children. The questionnaire included inquiries about health-related topics as well as nutrition and injury prevention, and of course, whether or not they had pets in the home.
The findings revealed that among the 58 percent of children with a dog, 12 percent tested positive on an anxiety-screening test, while 21 percent of those children without a dog scored positive on the test.
Dr. Gadomski cautioned the study was only an association, and said more studies would need to be completed to determine the cause and effect.
Gadomski added that childhood anxiety was a large mental health problem in the United States, and what we can do to mitigate anxiety of prevent its development would have a large impact on the mental health system in the country.
Numbers from the National Institute of Mental Health show that one of every eight children in the US is affected by childhood anxiety disorders, and that 18 percent of the US population of adults are affected by the disorders, some 40 million people, aged 18 and older.
Previous research has shown that if anxiety disorders are left untreated, they can lead to an increased risk for substance abuse, and kids are at a higher risk for problems at school and in social settings.
Gadomski says she sees a lot of kids with anxiety disorders and her heart goes out to them and their families, adding she would do anything to try to prevent the disorder from striking the children.
She said the idea for the research came about in part because of her observations as a pediatrician, and said she was impressed that often a baby’s first words were a pet’s name.