Children raised in a rural environment, surrounded by animals and bacteria-laden dust, grow up to have more stress-resilient immune systems and might be at lower risk of mental illness than pet-free city dwellers.
The study, co-authored by researchers from the University of Ulm in Germany and CU Boulder, adds to mounting evidence supporting the “hygiene hypothesis,” which posits that overly sterile environments can breed health problems.
- Adult men who had grown up in the country with pets had a healthier immune response to stress than those who grew up pet-free in the city, a new study shows.
- The study is the first in humans to suggest the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ applies to mental health too.
- Exposure to beneficial microorganisms in childhood may lead to better mental health in adulthood.