Children exposed to farm animals, including horses, in their first year of life may be less likely to develop asthma.

A Swedish study has found that infants whose parents worked with farm animals had a 52% lower risk of asthma when they reach school age.

Babies and toddlers who were raised with dogs were found to have a 13% lower risk.

The research reviewed data on children born in Sweden from 2001 to 2010.

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It included around 276,000 school-aged children, including nearly 22,000 with a parent who owned a dog during the child’s first year of life and about 950 with a parent who worked with farm animals.

The study was not designed to find out why the animals might be linked to a reduced asthma risk, but researchers believe it is due to a variety of factors.

“One of the main hypotheses at the moment is that children in animal environments breathe air that contains more bacteria, which actually could lower their risk of asthma,” lead researcher Tove Fall of Uppsala University told H&H.

Erica Kennington of Asthma UK said more research is needed.

“This will help us better understand the effects so that it can be turned into practical advice for parents of young children.”

Ref: H&H 19/11/15