Today’s Headlines: Having Pets May Help Lower Kids’ Risk of Developing Asthma, the Heartburn Medication That Could Be Affecting Your Kidneys, and the Benefits of Eating Fish While Pregnant

You don’t have to get rid of your pet if you’re having a baby. A new Swedish study shows that exposure to pets—especially their fur and bacteria—may actually help build up a child’s immune system as it develops. “Dog exposure during infancy was associated with a 13 percent lower risk of asthma in school-age children, while farm animal exposure was linked to a 52 percent risk reduction. Preschoolers had a 10 percent lower risk of asthma if they’d been exposed to dogs, and a 21 percent lower risk with exposure to farm animals.” Children that have animals also have a tendency to play outside more and can therefore develop a resistance against certain allergens as well. (NBC)

Certain heartburn medicines may result in kidney disease. Proton pump inhibitors (P.P.I.s) are drugs that can potentially harm your kidneys. “Researchers followed 10,482 people for an average of 13.9 years, comparing those who used P.P.I.s to nonusers and to those who used another type of heartburn medicines called H2 receptor antagonists…After adjusting for many variables, they found that the use of P.P.I.s was independently associated with a 20 percent to 50 percent higher risk of chronic kidney disease.” While the research did not prove P.P.I.s to be the sole cause of kidney disease, they recommended monitoring your kidneys if you are on a P.P.I. heartburn medication for an extended amount of time. (NYT)

Eating three servings of fish (up to 12 ounces) per week during pregnancy may help brain development in babies. Fish has long been known as a brain food but the risk of high mercury levels in seafood has also triggered warnings against its consumption for pregnant women. But now, research has shown that the mercury levels in certain fish are insignificant and it is more beneficial for pregnant women to eat fish than to avoid it. “In an attempt to balance the potential harms of such pollutants with the general health benefits of fish, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 2014 guidelines encourage pregnant women to eat fish, but no more than 12 ounces per week. The link between higher maternal consumption and better brain development in children was especially apparent when kids were five. The researchers also saw a consistent reduction in autism-spectrum traits with increased maternal fish consumption.” Some of the types of fish that were safe and beneficial for consumption were sardines, salmon, and shellfish. (Fox)